Suzie Q. Barkley of East Cobb had everything going for her as a bright 20-year-old Emory student a year ago. A talented writer, she received the rare honor to write for her college newspaper as a freshman, balanced two jobs and was supported by a loving family. Then, in August 2008, she woke up in bed paralyzed on the right side of her body, unable to move or talk. After a much milder attack two months earlier, an MRI performed on her…
“After three or four months of therapy at home, they said he had plateaued,” she said. But she read research reports suggesting more therapy could help. “I wanted intensive therapy before his first year was up, so he could get the most out of it.” Their search brought the Houston couple to the Aphasia Center in St. Petersburg. Mrs. Middlebrook chose the program in part because treatment would be tailored to her husband’s specific needs “and because of the weather,” she said. Similar programs she found are in Michigan and Illinois.
Our visit to The Aphasia Center in St. Petersburg, FL was much different than we had expected. After months and months of fundraising and brainstorming ways to raise the funds to attend the facility, a date was finally set. We made plans to have intensive speech therapy for four weeks at Steps Forward The Aphasia Center. The majority of the first two or three days was the beginning evaluation. This is once when Darryl was questioning the process. Although the therapists knew Darryl was unable to complete many of the activities on the assessment, he had to go through each step. Then, therapy really began on Day 4. He received 4 hours of speech therapy a day and an hour lunch with other participants. The people at the facility were all different ages, lived in different places, and were at different stages of recovery; however, they were all affected by Aphasia. Darryl enjoyed being with others that face the same challenges as he encounters each day.
Gene says that both he and Arvilla were very impressed with Dr. Lori. “The first week of Arvilla’s therapy, the doctor wouldn’t let me sit in on the sessions; I think she thought it was important to cut the umbilical cord,” he remembers with a chuckle. “As I sat out in the lobby, reading a book, I couldn’t help but hear quite a bit of laughter going on back there in her office. “After a week, I realized Arvilla was in good hands, so I just started dropping her off and doing whatever I wanted to do for the rest of the day. “I felt that confident.”
In September 2008, Ryan contracted a blood infection which caused a brain aneurism to rupture, followed by a stroke. Being in a coma for six weeks at Emory University Hospital’s Neuro ICU, he was given about a 20% chance to survive and a 10% chance to walk again. In late October, doctors performed brain bypass surgery, which was successful with a few complications. This facility saved his life. In November 2008, Ryan entered Shepherd Center’s Acquired Brain Unit for healing and therapy. His right arm and leg were physically challenged. He was discharged in mid December and began the day program at Shepherd Pathways. These two facilities brought Ryan from not being able to lift his head to walking and strengthening his arm. Speech continued to be Ryan’s biggest challenge. Because of the support Ryan received from last year’s golf tournament, he was able to attend the Steps Forward intensive speech therapy facility in St. Pete. This provided the breakthrough that Ryan needed for continued progress in his language and speech abilities.