When Marshall Handy had his first stroke in 2007, he did not receive care from a certified Primary Stroke Center. What he received was an injection, discharge papers and the challenge of teaching himself to walk and write again.
Fast forward to 2017 when Handy had his second, more severe, stroke at age 67. This time he received care at Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital, a certified Primary Stroke Center that meets the stringent standards of The Joint Commission. He will tell you the level of care was significantly stronger.
“With my first stroke, there was no education about my condition,” says Handy. “There was no physical therapy, so I had to figure out, on my own, how to write and walk again. That took months.”
At Memorial Hermann Greater Heights, Handy received lifesaving emergency care, followed by intensive physical, occupational and speech therapy during his hospital stay. This was followed by more rehabilitation as an outpatient. Having this continuum of care enables stroke patients to receive all needed health services in one location.
Three months after his stroke, Handy has regained his ability to eat, walk, talk and is participating in most of his activities of daily living. Throughout his recovery, Handy and his wife were encouraged by the medical staff and became educated about the importance of taking blood pressure medications, eating a healthy diet, getting daily exercise and keeping medical appointments after a stroke.
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in or around the brain is blocked or ruptures. When this happens, it takes just minutes for brain damage to occur. This is why a stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States. It’s also why knowing the symptoms of a stroke and the time it occurred are so important (see sidebar).
Receiving prompt care from a certified Primary Stroke Center, such as Memorial Hermann Greater Heights, gives stroke patients the best chance to minimize or eliminate disabilities associated with strokes. Proven protocols are in place that give stroke patients priority care in the hospital’s emergency center. These protocols also ensure that, when appropriate, stroke patients receive a potent clot-dissolving drug within three hours from the onset of symptoms that can save critical brain tissue.
Hospital Rehabilitation Unit Provides Continuity of Care
Handy, a U.S. veteran, spent 18 days at Memorial Hermann Greater Heights, mostly in the TIRR Memorial Hermann – Greater Heights* rehabilitation unit located within the hospital. Here, he received intensive, comprehensive rehabilitation care from a team of affiliated physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians, physical, occupational and speech therapists as well as TIRR Memorial Hermann neuropsychologists.
“Mr. Handy progressed from wheelchair to walker, to cane, to walking on his own,” says Lindsey Gockel, M.A., CC-SLP, a TIRR Memorial Hermann speech therapist. “To help him increase the volume of his voice and improve communication, we worked on vocal fold exercises. We also provided memory strategies to help him compensate for short-term memory problems.”
From Handy’s perspective, the care he received was extraordinary.
“The staff was compassionate, courteous, knowledgeable and professional to both me and my wife,” says Handy. “We liked that they included the family in the rehabilitation process. Memorial Hermann Greater Heights is the best place for any stroke victim to be for their rehabilitation.”
To learn more about the Memorial Hermann Greater Heights stroke program, or for a referral to outpatient rehabilitation at TIRR Memorial Hermann – Greater Heights, call 713.797.5942 or visit memorialhermann.org/heights.