Brittany Micholas - Hope found after stroke
Brittany shares her story as part of a series on stroke rehabilitation to highlight the American Stroke Association’s new Life After Stroke Guide (download it directly by clicking here), part of the Together to End Stroke initiative, sponsored nationally by Encompass Health.
Brittany Micholas had recently graduated college and was working at a theme park for the summer, when she got sick with a sinus infection that led to meningitis. The added pressure in her head resulted in five cerebral infarctions, or obstructions to her blood supply in her brain, and a stroke. At the young age of 25, she was left feeling like there was no hope for getting better.
But there was. Her local rehabilitation hospital, Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Harmarville in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, gave her the hope she needed through an individualized care plan coupled with intensive rehabilitation services. When she arrived to the hospital, she was unable to sit up in her wheelchair. In just the first week, she progressed to standing and walking with assistance thanks to the encouragement of her therapy team.
“It’s like starting a game and going directly to the hard level,” said Brittany. “When you are in this situation and realize there is no hope, you think you’re doomed. But when you’re set up with the technologies and the right people, you realize there’s a way to do it.”
Brittany was inquisitive about the technologies and equipment that surrounded her in the therapy gym. Believing she was not quite ready to use them, her therapists kept her motivated to try new things so she could prove to herself she was getting better.
During her stay, she recalls seeing another patient doing sidesteps and it piqued her interest. Her physical therapist helped her to be able to accomplish the task. “I didn’t think I would be able to [do them]… and I could,” stated Brittany. “That was kind of cool. That was one of my moments in physical therapy.”
By incorporating functional therapy like cooking and baking, the occupational therapists tapped into Brittany’s “inner baker,” an activity she now practices at home. Her love of music as a drummer was incorporated into therapy through use of technologies that allowed her to practice beat and rhythm.
“The rehab therapists are very good at motivating you, encouraging you. I just wanted to sit and do nothing. They get you going. They are good at tapping into things you might have been interested in before,” said Brittany.
Brittany is getting stronger each day. She has her mind set on driving again once her vision improves and wants to achieve full range of motion in her affected arm and has faith it will happen. “There’s always hope. A tiny little seed is enough to grow a field,” she said.
What gives you hope? Join the Support Network to comment below and share your experience.