Pat’s Story: On Par

Pat Poole is celebrating some successes: walking, talking and practicing her putting. Prior to her stroke in June, Pat was able to do all of these activities without much effort.

“I would golf every time I could get away,” she says.

Now, a round of golf is one of the many accomplishments Pat’s working toward with outpatient therapy at Atrium Medical Center’s Rehabilitation Center. Using creative tools and equipment, Pat is re-learning activities and adapting to her new limitations.

After her stroke in June, Pat spent a month in inpatient rehabilitation at Atrium, where she worked back up to everyday tasks, such as bathing, dressing and getting in and out of the shower. With additional speech therapyoccupational therapy and physical therapy, Pat was able to go home.

“The therapists came to our house to show me ways to help Pat get around more easily when she came home,” says Dick Poole, Pat’s husband.

Together, they worked hard to continue her therapy on an outpatient basis.

Playing to Strengths

“When a patient comes to Atrium for therapy, we look for their strengths, rather than deficits,” says David Seymour, MD, Rehabilitation Center medical director. “We find out what they can do well and how we can emphasize it.”

While it’s not always certain how much improvement a patient can achieve, “we work toward a functional return,” continues Dr. Seymour. “When Pat first came for outpatient therapy, she had trouble understanding others and expressing herself, which made it frustrating for her and her husband. Pat already has a lot of functional return, especially with her language.”

Sharon George, physical therapist at the Rehabilitation Center, says, “Pat had trouble walking and being able to shift and support her weight on her right side, which was most affected by the stroke. She has had to work on her mobility: how to get on and off different surfaces, in and out of chairs, and up and down stairs.”

Melissa Boland, outpatient occupational therapist at the Rehabilitation Center, helps Pat fine-tune her upper-body coordination.

“We work on strengthening her right hand, improving her visual perception and helping her become safer in the kitchen,” she says. “Pat was doing all the cleaning, laundry and cooking, so we’re helping her modify these tasks.”

Because Pat still has some visual perception issues, such as seeing numbers and letters incorrectly, her therapy includes a daily schedule using images to remind her of the activities and tasks in her day.

Pat’s home therapy includes time for practicing with flashcards, writing, cutting vegetables and a variety of household tasks. Pat’s therapists and Dr. Seymour are concentrating on higher-level learning, modifying her lifestyle and her home environment. They’ve also educated Dick about Pat’s abilities, limitations and therapy exercises. 

Working Hard on Recovery

“One of her big strengths is that Pat’s always been social and expressive,” says Tracey Wells, MS, CCC, SLP, speech therapist at the Rehabilitation Center. “So, in outpatient therapy, she made it her goal to clearly communicate her ideas. She had to work on her ability to describe things, but with practice, she’s able to do that now.”

In fact, Dick and Pat went on a cruise with friends recently, and Pat was able to have conversations comfortably.

“Pat and Dick were diligent about working at home,” Tracey adds. “Working hard at home is one of the telling factors in how people will improve. If they put time into the work outside the therapy session, they’ll do well.”

Pat is exercising her brain daily and wants to succeed. She’s done so well that she has graduated from her speech therapy.

“It’s been hard work, but I have already come a long way,” says Pat.

Thanks to the Rehabilitation Center and Pat’s dedication to her therapy program, she’s celebrating another success: her recent putt on a real green at The Practice Center in Franklin.

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