Getting it back

Rehabilitation Hospital of the Northwest helps stroke patients find what was lost


A couple of weeks before Christmas, Connie Morrissey didn’t feel right. Her right arm was a little numb and she felt strange.

Her husband, Bill, checked her blood pressure — it was sky high. The 69-year-old got up from the couch in her Bonners Ferry home to get a drink of water. She didn’t get far.

“I just collapsed,” she said. “I couldn’t speak or move.”

Connie had suffered a serious stroke. She was rushed to the hospital. Once her condition stabilized, she began the long road to recovery at the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Northwest in Post Falls.

“Connie was a joy to work with,” said Cheri Rose-Kociela, a speech therapist at the hospital. “She was dedicated and determined. She was having word-finding difficulties, which is very common with stroke victims. It can lead to depression, but she was very upbeat even when she was having difficulties finding the right word in our conversations.”

Rose-Kociela worked with Morrissey an hour a day for three weeks.

“Cheri would ask me to list all the words that start with the letter B,” said Morrissey. “It was like a cloud that wouldn’t clear. For the life of me, I couldn’t recall it. But I knew it was from the part of the brain that was damaged.”

Today the words come easier for her. So does walking.

“I had to learn to walk again and it wasn’t easy,” she said. “I don’t know where I’d be without the therapists in this place. I can’t say enough good things about them.”

That meant hours and hours of physical therapy over the course of her three-week stay. She walked the halls of the Rehabilitation Hospital, improving with each step. She transitioned from using a cane to needing none.

“At first she had trouble getting in and out of bed,” said Natalie Yoder, her physical therapist. “She has come a long way. Recovering from a stroke is like solving a puzzle and there are hard days, but Connie always wanted to do better and to do more.”

Bill, who visited his wife regularly, did a double take one day when he saw her walking down the halls unassisted.

“It didn’t look like the same person who had suffered a stroke,” he said. “I couldn’t believe. It was an amazing change.”

Connie Morrissey said her rehabilitation was more than just doing physical and mental exercises day in and day out.

“I was in rough shape. I wasn’t fit to be seen,” she said. “My face was drooping, but the people here treated me with such dignity and care. They would tease my hair so it looked good or help me with my lipstick.”

Connie also credits her occupational therapist, Sharon Bartlett, with helping her transition from the rehabilitation hospital to her home.

“Her help was invaluable to me as she helped me learn to take care of my personal needs so that I wasn't more of a burden to my dear husband,” said Connie. “She also worked with me so I could help do the regular tasks that I was used to doing as the homemaker in the house. She gave me the tools to be more successful at home and it was a huge relief for me to know my husband didn't have to be involved in every personal thing I did.”

-Written by Marc Stewart, Director of Sponsored Content


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