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Acute Rehab Unit Helps Stroke Patient

Published on Monday, November 30, 2015

This past winter, St. Ignace resident Rick Weiss was working outside when he slipped, fell, and hit his head. “I didn’t think I was laying there for long, so I got up and went back to work,” said Rick.

A few weeks went by and Rick started to experience headaches and weakness. He went to his Primary Care Physician who ordered a CAT scan of Rick's brain which showed a subdural hematoma (SDH), or a pool of blood between the brain and its outermost covering on both the left side and right side. Chaim Colen, MD, PhD, neurosurgeon at McLaren Northern Michigan was called for evaluation.

Dr. Colen confirmed Rick had an SDH. “I was still walking and talking normal. Seeking to avoid surgery, we decided to monitor the condition to see if it would progress,” stated Rick.

On March 29, Rick started to experience progressive left-sided weakness, and inability to safely walk and move. It was recommended he go to McLaren Northern Michigan to seek treatment. Rick underwent right craniotomy and left burr hole for evacuation, performed by Dr. Colen.

After surgery, Rick suffered from a venous stroke in an area that controls the initiation of movement. Due to his stroke, Rick lost the ability to tell certain parts of his body when to move. “My mind just couldn’t initiate movement,” said Rick. “I knew I would need therapy and was told that the McLaren Northern Michigan Acute Rehabilitation Unit was where I needed to be.”

Rick entered Acute Rehabilitation for 4 weeks, receiving care from physicians, nurses, patient care technicians, and intense therapy from a physical therapist and occupational therapist. Rick’s wife Deb was by his side supporting him with comfort and prayer.

“There was a time I wanted to give up, as a carpenter and hunter I could not come to terms having my left side paralyzed, but my Occupational Therapist Denise wouldn’t let me. She provided me with the tough love I needed to push through. We set goals and accomplished them,” said Rick. “Each person we met made us feel like we were part of their team or family. They could sense what we needed and they took time to explain it to us.” 

Rick started recovering fast. Within a few days, he went from a wheelchair to a walker to a cane. “My physical therapists pushed me, especially Krandall and Katie in cognitive therapy. They knew how to motivate me and did it with professionalism, compassion, and empathy.”

After a 5-week journey at the hospital, Rick went home on Wednesday, May 3 to finish his recovery with outpatient therapy and office visits with Dr. Colen.

“I can’t thank the people who took care of me enough. There was an outpouring of love from everyone. I mean, even the nurses who took care of me in ICU came back to check on me,” said Rick. “I am happy to be going home, but I will miss the people I have gotten to know and care about at McLaren Northern Michigan. The compassion and care from Dr. Naylor, the nursing staff, and the techs greatly worked in my recovery.”