In honor of Brain Injury Awareness Month, we’ll be sharing stories from individuals and families impacted by brain injury. As previously mentioned, brain injuries affect millions of adults and children each year, often leaving survivors with long-term physical, cognitive, and communication disability. Stroke survivor and current Magee patient Rhoda Dixon is thankful she is able to walk, talk and eat after suffering a stroke on February 1st. As her speech therapist, I got a chance to better know Rhoda not only as a patient, but also as a person. Her warm personality, sense of humor and strong motivation to get better helped her to make great progress during her stay at Magee.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a 50-something-year old Philly native who was working full-time as an audience development manager at North American Publishing Company (NAPCO) before my stroke. I have a supportive family, good friends, and a feline friend named Leah. I love to bargain shop and am known to always find the best sales!
What brought you into Magee?
I woke up on the morning of February 1st and felt funny. I couldn’t walk straight and I kept asking myself, “What’s wrong with me?” I knew something was really wrong when I went to make coffee and couldn’t do it — my balance and coordination was off. I was taken to the hospital where I was diagnosed with a left cerebellar stroke*. After I was deemed medically stable, I came to Magee for rehabilitation and have been here almost 4 weeks. I chose Magee because I heard it was one of the best and getting here I can see why.
*The cerebellum is an important structure in the brain responsible for motor control, coordination, balance, and posture.
What was your first day in rehab like?
When I first got to Magee, I had to adjust to the rules like not getting out of the bed and not getting out of the chair on my own. As a woman who was previously independent, this was something I had to get used to! I knew it was for my own good though. My first day was challenging, but rewarding at the same time.
Since coming to Magee, I’ve made great progress. When I first came here, I wasn’t able to lift my right arm, open my hand or move my fingers. Walking was a challenge because my right leg felt heavy and my balance was off. At the time of my discharge, I can now walk, raise my arm, move my fingers, and write. Yes, I have a signature — it’s not my signature, but it’s a signature!
What advice would you give to another brain injury survivor?
My first piece of advice would be to pick a good rehabilitation hospital like Magee and make sure you feel comfortable with the hospital you are choosing. I would tell somebody recovering from a life changing event to keep working hard, try to not get frustrated, and above all else believe.
After 4 weeks at Magee rehab, Rhoda plans to continue to get home physical, occupational, and speech therapy to continue to target her goals. Her goal is to eventually return to work and to enjoy time with family and friends.