Jaime Anderson’s life took a turn she never expected one evening in August
2012. As she got ready to go to her sister’s birthday dinner, Anderson, age 25,
had a massive stroke. After three brain surgeries that saved her life, and
receiving initial inpatient rehabilitation at Sister Kenny
Rehabilitation Institute – United
Hospital, she was referred to Courage Center to continue her recovery. (Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute and Courage Center have since merged to become Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute.)
Through hard work at both Sister Kenny and Courage Center, and a can-do
attitude, Anderson pushed to achieve her goals: to regain her independence and
return to work.
Before her stroke, Anderson had moved back to the Twin Cities from New
Orleans. She had a new job and an apartment with friends, and wanted more
opportunities to spend time with her family. Thanks to a lucky set of
circumstances, Anderson’s parents found her just after her stroke. She had
fallen on the floor of her apartment and was unable to move.
Doctors at United Hospital in St. Paul told her parents her chance of
surviving was poor. But Anderson beat the odds in what her medical team said has
been an exceptional recovery following a massive stroke.
Anderson’s rehabilitation therapy experience highlights the series of
services—often referred to as the continuum of care—that clients have access to
as they recover. Her rehabilitation began at Sister Kenny Rehabilitation
Institute – United Hospital, part of Allina Health. Then, she was referred to
Courage Center for three months of inpatient therapy.
Anderson arrived at Courage Center in a wheelchair, able to walk only a few
steps. The stroke had significantly weakened her left side, and she had
difficulty processing visual and spatial cues.
She worked hard in physical therapy to strengthen her left leg, then stand
and walk. “Learning to walk again, without holding onto anything, was so hard!”
Anderson said. “I was very shaky and afraid of falling.”
In occupational therapy she focused on learning to use her left arm again,
along with executive functioning skills like planning and problem-solving. “I’d
get a list of seven things to do for the day, and I’d have to figure out the
order I’d do them. I’d get frustrated! I’d be thinking, ‘I know how to do this!’
My therapist gave me a tip that helped: to talk out loud to myself.”
Before Christmas, Anderson asked her physical therapist for help so that she
could participate in a family event at a tree farm. She anticipated that getting
herself onto the hay wagon would be difficult. They figured out an approach, and
Throughout her therapy at Courage Center, “My therapists would help me find a
way. It might be a different way than I’d done before, but I learned there is
still a way to do it,” Anderson said.
Today, Anderson lives with her family and continues her outpatient therapy at
Courage Center. She appreciates that the therapy she received from Sister Kenny
is coordinated with her Courage Center therapy and overseen by her Sister Kenny
Her rehabilitation included participating in the Community Reintegration Program, learning with other clients who have
brain injuries how to improve her skills to live independently. And, to maximize
her physical recovery, she used Activity-Based Locomotor Training (ABLE),
a program of individualized, intensive exercise.
When it comes to her stroke, Anderson isn’t one to spend time wondering, “Why
me?” As she explained, “If I felt sorry for myself all the time, I wouldn’t get