Richard Stetts is a very active 64-year-old man who enjoys reading and studying the Bible. He was in the process of writing a book on his Bible studies until August of last year, when he suffered a severe stroke that left him unable to speak or use his right arm and leg.
On Sept. 15, 2009, he came to Rose View Center and the following is his inspirational journey through rehabilitation.
Upon admission, Stetts exhibited poor balance and poor strength in his right leg. He required moderate assistance for bed mobility and transfers and maximal assistance to walk very short distances with a hemi walker. Physical Therapy intervention included therapeutic exercise, therapeutic activities, gait training, neuromuscular reeducation and electric stimulation to the muscles.
Sharon Shaw, admissions and marketing director for Genesis Health Care at Rose View Center, said in addition to physical, occupational and speech therapy, Stetts also has to undergo kidney dialysis three times a week.
There is no doubt that undergoing such intensive treatments is very tiresome for patients but according to staff members, Stetts takes it all in stride.
Shaw said, "He keeps pushing."
Making great strides during the past several months, he now is able to move his right leg and only requires supervision for his bed mobility and transfers. Independently able to propel his wheelchair, Stetts now is walking 200 feet with a quad cane and can go up and down steps with minimal assistance. He continues to work on walking on uneven surfaces and steps in order to further strengthen his balance.
At the onset of occupational therapy (OT), he required moderate to maximum assistance for body bathing and maximum assistance for dressing.
Stetts also exhibited difficulty demonstrating appropriate object use; for example trying to eat the electric shaver and using a toothbrush to comb his hair. His right arm was completely flaccid and he couldn't maintain good posture while sitting or standing.
Stetts' OT consists of therapeutic exercise, therapeutic activities for transfers and positioning, neuromuscular reeducation, self care management training and electric stimulation to the muscles. Today, he is able to complete bathing and grooming tasks independently and requires minimal assistance for dressing by using one-handed dressing techniques.
Shaw said speech therapy also was a critical part of Stetts' rehabilitation.
When he began speech therapy (ST) Stetts was essentially mute, unable to voice or imitate oral movements with his tongue. He was only able to follow simple directions and his yes-no response was not consistently accurate. He did not gesture well, making communication very frustrating and difficult.
According to Speech Therapist Marjorie DeBlander, Stetts has made great strides in his functional communication and now is much more consistent with yes-no responses. He can consistently achieve voicing and entertains the therapists and other residents with his attempts at singing.
Initially, Stetts' reading comprehension abilities were significantly impaired and he could only inconsistently identify single words. Now, he is reading his books and the newspaper.
According to DeBlander, one of his biggest accomplishments is in his ability to write words.
At first, he was unable to identify letters or write with his non-dominant hand. He now can write some words and phrases both on the computer and with his left hand, which has tremendously decreased his frustration level in trying to communicate with others.
"It's been a humbling experience working with such a strong and determined individual," DeBlander said. "Mr. Stetts has far exceeded expectations."
"He guides us and pushes the envelope at all times," she said.
Recently, Stetts had a home evaluation and continues to work hard to accomplish what he needs to allow him to return home with his son, Christian. He exhibits a level of strength and determination that continues to inspire all those around him.
We should not be surprised because, according to his son, "He has been amazing me my whole life."
"Watching him (Stetts) makes us laugh and in a good way; he makes us cry," Shaw said. "People like Mr. Stetts are the reason this department does what it does."