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Seventy-nine-year-old Sally Sayre was visiting family north of Rhode Island. Over dinner, she suddenly “didn’t feel right,” passing out minutes later. An ambulance whisked Sally off to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
Sally had suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and bleeds into the surrounding brain. These strokes account for 13 percent of stroke cases, and most patients don’t survive them.
Sally’s husband, Ford, and their children raced to New Hampshire. Sally’s bleed stopped on its own but damaged her ability to comprehend and express language, known as aphasia. But, Sally survived.
After nine days in the hospital, it was time for rehab. Knowing the reputation of Vanderbilt Rehabilitation Center at Newport Hospital, Ford advocated for Sally to be transferred home to the Ocean State.
When the ambulance arrived at Newport Hospital, Ford knew Sally was in the right place. “Sally was on her road to recovery, needing to relearn basic words and how to walk and eat. They just enveloped her,” says Ford. “The care she received at Vanderbilt was just that, caring.”
It wasn’t easy, but with her family’s constant support, the care of her doctors and nurses, and the daily physical, occupational and speech therapy, Sally made a remarkable recovery.
“Sally had quite a significant stroke. When she arrived at Vanderbilt she had trouble finding the right words to express herself, but during her stay she rebounded significantly,” explains Mustapha Kemal, MD, medical director of Vanderbilt Rehabilitation Center.
After more than two weeks, when Sally was able to walk, use the stairs, eat, and recognize faces and names, she was ready to leave Vanderbilt. “By the time she was discharged, she had improved to a level that if I hadn’t known of her stroke, I wouldn’t suspect she had one,” says Dr. Kemal.
Nine months later, Sally continues speech therapy to help with the aphasia, but overall has made measurable progress and is back to her active lifestyle. She says, “I count my blessings that one of the best centers for stroke rehabilitation in the country is right here at Newport Hospital.”