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New Ulm Medical Center

  Stroke rehabilitation

Journeying back from aneurysm and stroke: Frank's story

Surrounded by his rehabilitation care team, Frank proudly hold his Inspiration Award trophy.

Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute – New Ulm successfully nominated Frank Schwab for an 2012 Inspiration Award. Frank Schwab (center, seated) is pictured here with Shari Meyer, occupational therapist; Sue Schwab, physical therapy aide (seated on his left and right); (standing, left to right) Lori Froehling, director of rehabilitation therapies for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute; Steve Schneider, director of operations at New Ulm Medical Center; and Deb Beatty, physical therapist and manager of Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute - New Ulm.

Alan "Frank" Schwab received therapy at Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute – New Ulm to overcome the debilitating effects of a right-hemisphere aneurysm and a left-hemisphere stroke.

Schwab's medical journey started in December 2010. Following acute hospital care in Minneapolis, his goal was to return home for therapy at Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute – New Ulm, where his wife works as a rehabilitation aide. He was making improvements in his activities of daily living and in his receptive and expressive language. By March 2011, he was transferred to a skilled nursing facility in New Ulm, where he remained for three months.

Schwab walked through the doors of Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute – New Ulm at the end of June 2011. He had improved to the point that he needed only one visit with the physical therapist and he no longer needed speech therapy.

"So Frank and I started our journey together," said Shari Meyer, Schwab's occupational therapist. "By this time, Frank was able to use his left upper extremity functionally."

His right side had more significant problems. Meyer worked with Schwab on joint protection, passive range of motion and weight bearing activities for two months.

"Frank's dedication to his therapy made magic happen," said Meyer.

He completed at least two to three hours of rehabilitation every day. His family helped by fabricating powder boards, pulleys and other items that Meyer recommended, and they challenged him on a daily basis. After 16 months, Schwab was discharged from therapy.

Alan (Frank) Schwab

Frank Schwab volunteers at Oak Hills, the skilled nursing facility where he received therapy.

Schwab returned as a volunteer to Oak Hills (skilled nursing facility) in New Ulm. He wanted to help others, and he needed to find out what he was capable of doing since his brain injury prevented him from returning to work as an electrician.

Schwab spends time visiting with the residents and volunteering in various departments a few times a week for a few hours at a time.

"He's also has been a cheerleader for outpatients at Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute – New Ulm," said Meyer. Schwab wants to help others who shared the same gym space with him for nearly a year.

He always greets, encourages and supports other patients, giving them the motivation to try harder themselves with their own program.

In addition, he visits families of chemotherapy patients at Virginia Piper Cancer Institute – New Ulm, lifting their spirits in the social area. He also became a role model for a friend who suffered a brain aneurysm earlier this year.

Schwab has overcome many obstacles, from needing significant medical interventions for survival, to responding to the therapies that gave him back the ability to walk, talk and enjoy life. He recently became a grandfather and continues to volunteer. He has resumed driving a car, and remains an inspiration to everyone who knows him.

Source: 2012 Inspiration Award
Reviewed by: Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute – New Ulm
First Published: 09/14/2012
Last Reviewed: 09/14/2012