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Focus on the Positive

Posted on September 19, 2022

Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center Helps Knoxville Woman Regain Strength and Balance Following Stroke

Christy Myers is a Maryville native who enjoys hiking with her husband and walking their three dogs. Six months before her 50th birthday, Myers suffered a stroke. She received rehabilitative care at Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center and doctors expect her to make a full recovery.

A Scary Saturday

It was a normal Saturday in May 2022 when Myers began experiencing stroke symptoms. The right side of her body began feeling numb, and the numbness progressed throughout the day. That evening, she went to Covenant Health’s Parkwest Medical Center and was admitted within minutes of arriving at the emergency department.

“By the time we got to Parkwest, I could barely walk,” says Myers. “I remember getting a CT scan. I was laying on the table and remember feeling joy that I was alive, because at that point I knew I had had a stroke.”

Myers suffered an acute left basal ganglia stroke. When the blood supply is cut off from the basal ganglia (a cluster of neurons deep in the brain), it causes problems with muscle control and sense of touch. This type of stroke is called a hemorrhagic stroke and can result from uncontrolled high blood pressure.

Continuum of Care

Michaela Whidby, LMSW, CCM, is a clinical social worker for Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center. The Center is East Tennessee’s premier rehabilitation hospital for patients who have suffered neurological conditions, brain and spine injuries.

Whidby’s job is to assess patients to determine if they are candidates for PRNC. Whidby says, “One of the first things that struck me about Christy was how positive and motivated she was. We discussed how independent she was prior to her stroke, but at the hospital she could hardly move her legs.”

After one week in Parkwest’s intensive care unit, Myers was transferred to Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center where she stayed for seven days.

At Patricia Neal

Stroke rehabilitation helps the patient regain as much independence and quality of life as possible. The goal of rehab is to restore the patient’s functioning and well-being, leading to optimal health.

“They assess your ability at Pat Neal,” Myers recalls. “After about two days, I was able to walk on my own with a cane, which was great, but exhausting. I needed help doing everything.”

The customer service professional describes how her therapists were encouraging and kind during her stay. “They were so careful with my health,” Myers says. “I had no sensation on the right side of my body, so that’s what we focused on.”

Over time, Myers slowly regained feeling in her right side. “It was weird. First it came back in my toes and ankles, then my knee. I started walking and doing the exercises, and then I was able to walk unassisted.”

Outpatient Therapy

Because Myers made such notable progress during her inpatient stay, she was able to go home and return for outpatient visits for several weeks.

With her therapists, Myers practiced using balance and strengthening her muscles. She worked on lifting her foot to go up and down stairs. Before the stroke, Myers practiced yoga for 30 minutes each day and was accustomed to walking several miles daily. Her active lifestyle helped her body recover faster than if she had not been in the habit.

Focus on the Positive

“The nurses and therapists were just fantastic,” she says. “One physical therapist was familiar with yoga, so when he realized I knew the poses, he described several moves that would help me. And one night nurse recognized I wasn’t sleeping well; she helped me get comfortable and sleep through the night. I am so thankful!”

Myers tried to maintain a positive attitude because she knew it would affect her recovery. The administrative professional is back at work and expects to make a full recovery. She says, “The staff at Pat Neal are great about focusing on the positive aspects. Any little movement I did or progress I made, they celebrated. You don’t hear any negativity.”

Looking Ahead

Whidby encountered Myers two months after her inpatient stay at Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center. Whidby says, “Christy was totally improved, ambulating independently and almost back to her baseline. She was very thankful for all the hard work our staff had put in to help her.”

The clinical social worker adds, “Stories like hers are why I love my job. It is so rewarding to see the direct results of how we help our patients. It’s an honor to be a part of that journey with them!”

Myers continues to recover and will celebrate her 50th birthday in October. “I am looking forward to everything. There is joy to be found in everything you do.”

About Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center

PNRC’s stroke rehabilitation team includes physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, rehab psychologists, nursing staff, case managers, recreation therapists and physiatrists (physicians who specialize in rehabilitation). The Center utilizes treatment plans that involve both the patient and family in goal setting, therapy and education.

To learn more about the services offered at Patricia Neal, visit PatNeal.org.