Together in the fight against stroke and cardiovascular disease

Encompass Health is proud to be a national supporter of the American Stroke Association and Together to End Stroke beginning in 2019. By working together, we can show how stroke is treatable, beatable and preventable.

Life After Stroke

According to the 2016 adult stroke rehabilitation guidelines released by the American Heart Association, whenever possible, stroke patients should be treated at an in-patient rehabilitation facility rather than a skilled nursing facility. While at an in-patient rehabilitation facility, a patient participates in at least three hours of rehabilitation a day from physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists. Nurses are continuously available and doctors typically visit daily. An in-patient rehabilitation facility may be a free-standing facility or a separate unit of a hospital. (SOURCE: AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION, INC.)

Encompass Health and the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association have also worked collaboratively on a stroke patient and caregiver guide that includes resources, rehabilitation information and an area for patients to document their condition. Download the free Life After Stroke guide in English or Spanish.

Coming together for Amy

At Encompass Health, we come together to fight stroke and cardiovascular disease for patients like Amy Ervin, a firefighter and emergency medical technician in Kansas City, Missouri, who was just 29 years old and in picture-perfect health when she experienced stroke.

Amy Ervin stands next to the freezer in the simulated grocery store.

After finishing an intense workout, in the on-site work gym, Amy collapsed, hitting her head on the back of a fire truck. Her co-workers rushed to assist her, securing an ambulance to take her to the hospital.

Amy remembers everything about her ride to the hospital that day in the December 2012, recalling how her speech sounded slurred and garbled as though intoxicated. Once in the intensive care unit, she did not realize the severity of what happened. But, it wasn’t long before she discovered she could not move the left side of her body. A CT scan revealed she had experienced an ischemic stroke from a carotid artery dissection. Doctors were unable to determine what caused this, and Amy’s good health made it even more puzzling.

After a few weeks in the acute care hospital, Amy knew she was ready for rehabilitation. She needed the best chance of getting back, so she chose MidAmerica Rehabilitation Hospital, an inpatient rehabilitation hospital in the Encompass Health network. Amy and her mother liked that the goal of MidAmerica was to help patients regain independence sooner and return them home and to the community.

Amy arrived at MidAmerica in a wheelchair, unable to walk or use the left side of her body. Right away, she was evaluated for her personalized therapy plan and began speech, occupational and physical therapies, focusing on walking again.

“All of my therapists wanted me to succeed,” Amy said. “They didn’t hold my hand at all, but inspired me to do what I could.”  Amy was also constantly encouraged by her boyfriend, family and friends. Advanced technologies such as the Dynavision™ and the Bioness® NESS H200® were integrated into her program. And she used a walker to move around and quickly progressed to using a cane without assistance. Amy’s therapist equipped her with an ankle-foot orthosis to assist her with walking.

Amy and her therapist are pictured doing a stretching technique in front of a mirror.

On Valentine’s Day, Amy was discharged from rehabilitation and returned home, needing only minimal assistance from family and friends. She returned to work in a modified role in September 2013, and currently works as an emergency medical dispatcher. Her long-term goal is to return to her previous role of firefighting and providing emergency care. She strives to remain positive and focused on a full recovery. Her recovery has been a journey she wants to share with others.

“It is hard work,” Amy said, “but you can’t expect someone else to fix you and make you do the work. It’s all up to you.”

Today, Amy works out daily, loves to shop and tries to go to any event she is invited to, “because you never know,” Amy said. “It is so important to live life now.”

Stories like Amy’s are what motivate us to go red with the American Heart Association in the fight against stroke and heart disease in women.

Going red for women

As part of Encompass Health’s national sponsorship, some of its hospitals will be serving as signature sponsors for 23 Go Red for Women luncheons across the country. Join us in the fight against cardiovascular disease and stroke at one of these inspiring events.