Brady Johnson - Winning the War
Brady Johnson is a Motivational Speaker, Author, Ordained Minister and former Air Force Airman who served 13 year in the USAF, who at 31 had a major stroke that caused him to lose use of his right side. Through struggles, tears, and trials, Brady Johnson was able to run in a 5K race. Mr. Johnson is originally from Louisville, Kentucky, where he attended the University of Louisville and finished up his degree in Business Administration at Northwood University. He was invited to work out for the Chicago White Sox after High School and has been a Sports Agent, representing NFL athletes. Brady Johnson was ordained into the Ministry in 1999 and has been involved in Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Brady Johnson since his stroke has been very involved with American Heart Association and American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) and was awarded the Stroke Hero award in 2016. He has spoken on TV and Radio stations, including NBC 5 Chicago and ESPN 1000, and local TV stations around Rockford, IL. He has been the Key Note speaker for many Topics and Music Concerts such as Grammy Award Winner Smokey Norful, and top Gospel singer Dottie Peoples sponsored by the AHA. Brady Johnson resides in Belvidere, IL with his family.
When I thought about physical therapy, I thought about older people, grandma and grandpa’s, going to therapy to re-establish some type of movement in their arm or leg. When I was thirty-one, I had brain surgery and during the surgery, I had a major stroke. When I woke up after the surgery, I could not speak or move the right side of my body. While I was healing from the surgery, I started therapy in the hospital. However, once I had healed from the surgery, I was sent to Marianjoy Rehabilitation Center, in Illinois, after I left the hospital. In my head, I had five goals I wanted to conquer while there.
- Be able to run
- Walk at my wedding with no assistance.
- Able to speak clearly
- Able to walk up steps
- Mobility with my right arm and hand
I had the mindset of basic training. I remember thirteen years prior, I was at basic training for the United States Air Force to challenge myself and push myself to the limits, to be “war ready.” I was in a war with my body and I was going to prevail!
To win the war, I knew that my therapists and I all had to be on the same page and communicating with each other. Whether I was at physical, speech or occupational therapy, they listened to me when I explained my goals and they drew up ways to help me achieve them. They did this by setting smaller daily goals. Don’t get me wrong, there were days that were extremely difficult for me and I felt defeated, but I was reminded of the bigger picture by my therapist and family. I also drew even closer to God, leaning on Him for strength, wisdom, and guidance.
Two weeks went by and I was taken off speech therapy. I was able to talk, communicate by speech! No more slurring words! This wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t trust my therapist. I trusted that she knew and understood my goals and I trusted in the small goals she had for me. I didn’t question when she started out one day having me sound out letters.
As weeks went by, I continued to improve in my movement of my arm and hands. Walking was a little more challenging. My brain knew what to do, but my body didn’t respond the way I wanted it to. It was a long process. I left Marianjoy in a wheelchair and outpatient therapy near my home.
I started out-patient exactly like inpatient, with explaining my goals to my therapist. I was still in my wheelchair and my wedding was about a year out. The therapists and I again set smaller goals to achieve to get me to the big goal which was to walk at my wedding with no assistance.
I was determined to get out of the wheelchair. I spent hours at home doing exercises the therapists had given to me. The therapist would challenge me more and more and I was ready for it. Slowly, I went from a wheelchair to a walker to a cane.
My wedding day came and I was able to walk without assistance. I had a few balancing checks, but I didn’t fall!
As I look back, I am so thankful for the therapists that were put in my path. They listened to me and designed a plan around me. Trust was a huge factor. Trusting in their expertise and knowing they were going to help get me to where I wanted to be was not as difficult as I thought it would be. They also knew I would be diligent in my exercises when I was at home.
Fast-forward to present day, I have run in a 5K. My run is not perfect, but I did it! My motor skills are back in my right arm and hand; however, some of the feeling is gone. I can also do steps but feel more confident when I am holding onto the railing with my left hand.
There were days during therapy that I felt I was defeated. That I wanted to give up. However, in the end I conquered my goals and prevailed! I won the war!