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Our Patients

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      Kenny Hellrung


      Kenny Hellrung, the 58-year old father and grandfather started his day like any other.  An electrician by trade, he was working on an estimate when he suddenly lost his ability to speak and had no feeling on the right side of his body, leaving him unable to stand.

      Kenny was rushed to the hospital where it was quickly determined that he was having a stroke. With no time to lose, he was given tPA, also known as tissue plasminogen activator, which dissolves blood clots that cause a stroke and improves blood flow. If administered within in a short window of time, tPA can have significant impact on a positive recovery.

      After the tPA was administered, Kenny regained the feeling back on his right side, but he soon suffered another stroke and was airlifted to SSM Health DePaul Hospital, where he continued to experience complications, including atrial fibrillation and kidney stones. It took several days to stabilize Kenny so that he could make the transition to SSM Health Rehabilitation Hospital – Bridgeton to continue his recovery.

      Upon admission, Kenny’s goals were simple, but not easy to accomplish – he wanted to speak clearly, walk and use his right arm again. A physician-led team of therapists and nurses created a plan to help him reach his goals.

      Kenny required total assistance with most of his basic self-care and mobility tasks when he arrived at SSM Health Rehabilitation Hospital, but he didn’t get discouraged. His occupational therapists were impressed by his ability to stay positive and motivated during his entire stay, even asking for activities and exercises to work on during his downtime and constantly asking to be challenged more. Therapists used electrical stimulation on Kenny’s arm to help regain function. They also taught him how to safely transfer from laying to sitting and sitting to standing. Recreational therapists worked with Kenny to keep his mind active and challenged with Sudoku puzzles and other brain-stimulating activities.

      Kenny particularly enjoyed speech therapy. Kenny’s stroke had affected his speech in a unique way; he spoke as though he had a foreign accent. He liked the exercises his therapists would present to help slow his rate of speech and develop skills of self-awareness and self-correction.

      In physical therapy, Kenny walked on a treadmill and used the Lokomat, a robotic gait training device, to help improve his mobility and balance. When he arrived, Kenny required assistance with transfers and was using a walker and navigating stairs with assistance. After nearly a month of rehabilitation, Kenny was able to walk 200 feet independently with a quad-base cane and could navigate a flight of stairs with minimal assistance.

      A turning point in Kenny’s recovery came when he was able to start walking and moving his arm again, and when he noticed his speech was improving. Kenny was extremely complementary to his rehabilitation team, who he said were always attentive, encouraging, polite and respectful of his privacy. Kenny’s daughter was also by his side and was involved in family training so she could assist with Kenny’s return to home.

      By the time Kenny was discharged, he had made great strides towards reaching his goals.  He plans to continue rehabilitation to further regain mobility through outpatient therapy three times per week.

      But most of all, Kenny looks forward to spending time with his grandson and the rest of his family.