Kelli's Story

Group photo of Kelli's supporters at a rehabilitation event, with several wearing 'Team Kelli' t-shirts in a show of solidarity

It was Mother’s Day weekend and Kelli Summit, 40, had big plans. As she got ready for brunch, a painful headache throbbed.

“She told me it felt like her head was going to explode,” her mother, Laurie Tubbs, remembered. “We all attributed it to allergies and sinus trouble. It was windy that day, and that can make her asthma and allergies worse.”

Later that evening, she felt nauseous. Her husband rushed her to the local emergency room. By the time they arrived, Kelli was slurring words and having trouble walking.  Tests revealed she was having a stroke. Doctors quickly administered a clot-busting drug and she was airlifted to a hospital in Fort Worth, Texas.

After almost a month, her condition stabilized but she was not ready to go home. Kelli’s doctors sent her to Select Rehabilitation Hospital of Denton for additional healing and recovery time. 
She arrived June 29, unable to walk, get out of bed or sit up unaided. She had a feeding tube and needed a tracheostomy to support her airway. “Team Kelli” – her husband, parents and siblings – were willing to do anything to help her get well.

Our physician-led team of nurses, therapists, dietitians and aides were, too. They created a plan to build Kelli’s strength and independence.

Physical therapists began helping Kelli sit up in bed and move to a chair. As she was able to tolerate more activity, they increased her exercise schedule to three hours a day. In the therapy gym, she worked to sit up on a mat unassisted, stand and navigate stairs. Speech therapists helped her with swallowing using exercises and electrical stimulation to help her nerves and muscles reconnect. Occupational therapists helped her relearn to feed herself, button her shirt and brush her teeth.

Kelli made incredible progress in just a month. Not long after arriving, Kelli and her twin sister attended our July stroke support group. Kelli has no memory of it, or of being unable to speak or feed herself. At the August meeting, attended with her husband, she carried on conversations and ate on her own.

When asked if there was a key turning point in her journey, her mom Laurie said, “Every day was a miracle.”

“We know Kelli is ready to move on to more therapy (six hours per day), but as we left Select, we felt like we were leaving part of our family behind,” Laurie said. “From the doctors, nurses, therapists, nursing staff, and even the food service staff who made sure she had delicious smoothies and food she could eat. The care that Kelli received was above and beyond outstanding. We feel we are truly blessed to have been able to have had our loved one stay at Select Rehabilitation Hospital of Denton.”