scroll to top of page

A Life Worth Fighting For

Posted on May 28, 2020

PNRC Helps Stroke Patient Find His Way

Ken and Janine Bateson with their dogIn January of 2019, Ken Bateson, 77, came to Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center after a massive stroke. No one could understand him when he spoke. He had lost the use of the right side of his body.

“I had no hope,” Ken says. “None. Zero.”

His wife remembers staring out a window, feeling truly lost, when a nurse offered warm reassurance. “She put her arm around me and she told me it was going to be okay,” Janine Bateson says with emotion.

At Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center, nurses and therapists have extensive experience and training, with access to hundreds of medical specialists through Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center.

The tools used for stroke recovery range from state-of-the-art equipment to a rooftop therapy garden. Patients regain a quality of life they sometimes thought they would never experience again.

“Ken worked in sales and was blessed with the gift of gab and sense of humor to laugh, even at himself,” says Carol Case, speech language pathologist at PNRC. “His stroke severely affected his speech and his ability to speak with clarity so much that we he came to PNRC, I couldn’t understand even his name.  This was devastating to someone whose persona was greatly based in his communicative strengths.”

Ken soon realized he wasn’t being treated like a lost cause. “They had an investment in me,” Ken says. “These people devoted their education and their interest in me! They were working every day to make me better!”

He began to feel a sense of hope, and when that happened, his will to live returned. Ken began to reclaim the joy that had always defined him.

“By the time he discharged home, Ken’s speech had greatly improved and he was known as the ‘funny man.’ He made everyone laugh, even other patients whom he had never –met. He was like ‘the mayor’- he’d talk to everyone, offering encouragement and quick-witted statements to cheer on others, and get a laugh himself,” Case recalls. Eventually, Ken was able to operate a specially fitted wheelchair. By Valentine’s Day, Ken was joking with PNRC staff members and making his wife laugh again.

“Everybody there at Pat Neal is doing it because they want to. And I was a beneficiary of that attitude,” Ken says. “I swear I fell in love with them.”

For Janine, the professionalism and structure offered at Patricia Neal had a beauty all their own.

“They had processes, and they knew what they were going to do with Ken within the first hour,” Janine says. “They just know how to help you, physically and emotionally. They always have time for you. They just embraced us as a couple.”

The Batesons agree that while life has been difficult since Ken’s stroke, it’s also been filled with blessings. The blessings, they say, include the people at Patricia Neal who gave so much so that Ken and Janine could live life with hope.

To learn more about Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center, visit or call (865) 331-3600.