Vicki's Story

Vicki Tennison displays her art from recreational therapy.

Vicki Tennison was enjoying a phone call with her son as she prepared dinner. She dropped a couple bowls as she cooked, and soon her son realized she was slurring her speech. Alarmed, he called for help and Vicki was soon on a careflight to a hospital in Plano where she was diagnosed with a stroke.

After three weeks in the hospital, she stabilized and was ready for admission to Select Rehabilitation Hospital of Denton where should would receive the rehabilitative care needed for her recovery. Upon arrival, Vicki was unable to use her left arm and her left leg was severely weakened too. She was dependent on caregivers for mobility and help dressing, bathing or transferring to a wheelchair. 
Vicki knew the road ahead included challenges, but she was determined to live independently.  “I wanted to walk out of the hospital, take care of myself and go back to hanging out with my dogs,” she said. “I also looked forward to drinking coffee on my back patio.”

Physical therapy started Vicki with bed mobility, having her strengthen her arms and legs with exercises in her bed first, which progressed to standing and beginning to take a few steps with the assistance of a walker as she grew stronger. Vicki states of her physical therapist, “She helped me so much. She just pushed and pushed and pushed me to get back to walking. I appreciate her so much.”

Occupational therapy worked on Vicki’s upper body strength and left-side weakness. Her therapy included the use of robotic equipment that supported her arm while slowly increasing arm function. It also engaged Vicki with targeted games that required her to lift and rotate her arm. The staff cheered her on as she kept hitting her daily therapy goals.

Vicki came to the rehabilitation hospital with her acute care speech therapist’s diet recommendation of moderately thick liquids and pureed foods. Select Rehabilitation Hospital of Denton’s speech therapy team worked hard to get her approved for a type of swallow study, called a modified barium swallow study, in order to assess her swallowing capabilities. With imaging from the study to guide them, speech therapists developed an individualized plan which included stimulating her swallowing muscles with neuromuscular electrical stimulation technology called Ampcare. Under the guidance of her therapist, Vicki diligently worked on oral motor and pharyngeal strengthening exercises, improving her swallowing so she could safety enjoy regular thin liquids. Her speech clarity improved as well. 

After sixteen days at Select Rehabilitation Hospital of Denton, Vicki could now take care of her personal needs independently, such as dressing, toileting, grooming. She could get in and out of the bed or a chair by herself, only requiring someone to be present in case she needed help. She could also walk over 150 feet with her hemiwalker for support and someone standing by for assistance, if needed.

Vicki was ready to return home for coffee on her patio surrounded by her dogs. With plans to continue her journey to independence with outpatient therapy, Vicki praised the supportive atmosphere at the hospital. "The staff at Select Medical Rehabilitation Hospital of Denton cares about you and makes you feel better about your situation,” she said.

Her advice to others on a health journey: “No matter how hard it is, keep trying and listen to your therapists. Sometimes you want to lay in bed, but get up and keep moving… you will improve.” 

*Patient success stories from across our hospital network.