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Faces of Stroke Ambassador: Grant

Stroke can have a significant impact on someone’s life. For those still in the workforce, returning to work plays an important role in regaining independence and rejoining society. Several factors affect one’s ability to successfully return to work.

Grant Needham, 47, had a stroke in 2012. He was attending a church service when suddenly he lost almost all of his vision and control over most of his body. Thankfully his godmother, who was sitting next to him, recognized that he was having a stroke.

At the hospital, Grant learned that the cause of his stroke was a patent foramen ovale (PFO). A PFO is a small hole in the heart that often has no symptoms. As many as 20 percent of people living in the U.S. have a PFO, but don’t know it until they have a stroke or a mini-stroke. A PFO increases a person’s stroke risk by up to 25 percent.

Grant’s story seems like a miracle, since after his severe stroke, he went home after only four days in the hospital and continued his recovery. He was back at work a mere three weeks after his stroke.

For a moment after his stroke, he questioned his ability to go back to work. Applying for disability was an option. But regaining his independence was important to him.

Back at work, Grant was challenged with typing emails, following through with a thought from start to finish and aphasia. He worked in a call center and spent much of his time on the phone.

Grant actively met the challenges of going back to work. Before returning to work, his friends and family practiced word pronunciation with him and he practiced reading aloud and speaking on the phone. He also noticed that speaking at a slower pace made a difference.

He worked shorter hours and had help typing emails. He was also closely monitored by caring co-workers for compliance with his doctor’s recommendations not to overdo it. He cannot say enough about the support and encouragement he received from his employer and co-workers.

Today, Grant is getting back to all the activities he enjoyed before his stroke: golf, fly fishing, skiing and basketball. He has a new outlook on life and feels like he has become more patient and a better listener.

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