Ron's story

At 75, Ron Burke suffered a stroke, marking his second battle with a neurological condition. Thirty five years ago, an aneurysm forced him to retire from his marketing post, but he bounced back physically and returned to an enjoyable life at home.

This stroke was different, it caused multiple impairments and left Ron depressed and angry.

He arrived at Select Rehabilitation Hospital of Denton in March and would only leave his bed for meals. He had trouble communicating, couldn’t stand on his own and was frustrated about depending on his wife Sandra, and others, for help.

His angry demeanor and dispirited attitude caused Sandra to ask if he simply wanted to lay there until he died. That wake-up call pushed Ron to action as he embraced his therapy sessions.

A speech therapist, helped him tackle communication issues.  She patiently led Ron through a variety of mental exercises designed to improve his ability to express himself. Slowly, they rebuilt his ability to speak, one sound at a time. It sparked hope with each new word.

Soon, Ron was able to speak more clearly and set goals for himself: walking on his own, sitting at the dinner table, talking about events with family, gaining independence and writing again.

He began participating in more therapy. His therapists helped him sit up unattended, stand with parallel bars and move through exercises that built arm and leg strength. Ron reached a turning point the day his therapist took him for an outdoor stroll without a walker. Ron was beaming -- he realized just how far he had progressed. The plan was working.

Our dietitian, worked with Sandra teaching her to cook and plan balanced meals. Cooking healthy had been a challenge for the couple previously, but they now eat healthy meals at home, including the yogurt parfaits Ron became so fond of during his stay.

“Good care, good food (my family came to eat because the food was so great), cleanliness of the hospital and having my needs met,” were the things he appreciated most about his time at Select Specialty Hospital of Denton.

When Ron left for home three weeks later, he had a smile on his face and a sense of accomplishment. He said he’d met about 80 percent of his goals. He’d still like to get back to walking without any assistive device.

Ron recently returned to our campus to visit -- thrilled to show our staffers how he was able to walk without a walker. He was happy with his progress and nothing made him happier than doing the little things in life: going to the mailbox, feeding the birds and walking outside (on many surfaces). All felt like victories.

Ron said he’s not done yet.  He’s joining the Northlakes Recreation Center with Sandra, exercising more frequently and continuing to improve on his own.