When Angelia Johnson checked into Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center, she was dealing with the effects of a stroke that occurred after a traumatic brain injury. The brain injury happened when she fell in a hospital emergency room where she was being treated for pneumonia caused by COVID-19.
“When I woke up and saw my physical condition, it scared me because I didn’t know what had happened,” the Newport woman says. “I could not stand, I couldn’t walk…I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t swallow. I mean, I literally could do nothing for myself.”
Johnson felt helpless and alone. With visitation restrictions in place because of the pandemic, she had no one at her side to offer comfort and support. No one, that is, except the staff at Patricia Neal. The people who cared for her and delivered exceptional and award-winning rehabilitation services also became a substitute family.
“The bottom line for all the staff is to do what’s best for the patient,” says Patricia Neal physical therapist Valerie Blackmon. “That’s our motive for what we’re doing.”
Johnson’s physical, speech and occupational therapies were rigorous and overseen by trained staff, physicians and nurses. Johnson was willing to put in the work, but she knew she had a long way to go.
“It was like my legs were noodles, and I could not even focus on standing up or open my hands to get a grip on the parallel bars,” Johnson says.
Blackmon says Johnson was committed to therapy, following instructions to the letter and performing exercises prescribed to be done in the patient’s room. Johnson’s adult son was trained to take care of his mother. Patricia Neal staff made sure he was able to stay connected with his mom through phone and video calls.
Finally, after several weeks, Johnson was able to move back home and begin outpatient therapy.
“I thank God every day that He spared me and that He put the right people in my life to get to the point where I can walk and I can talk,” Johnson says. “Just being able to stand and walk to the refrigerator. Just to be able to walk myself to the bathroom. Just to be able to drink a glass of water is a blessing.”
Johnson says she continually thanks God for her recovery, and she also thanks Him for the people at Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center who helped make her miracle happen.
“God blessed me when He put them in my life,” Johnson says. “Without them I wouldn’t be where I am now. I could never thank them all enough.”
The inner strength of a woman determined to thrive was combined with the passion and commitment of experts who were determined to help her do just that. The result is a fresh understanding of life’s potential and belief that miracles still happen.