Rehabilitation helps stroke survivors overcome fears, stay motivated during recovery

Forte’s Story

Jean and Gary Forte MontgomeryJean Forte was 57 when she had a massive heart attack followed by a stroke in 2018. She spent a month in the hospital before being transferred to an inpatient rehabilitation hospital. She couldn’t walk or do much else.

“I remember that first day there,” Forte said. “I had no ability to really even sit up by myself or do anything close to that. I knew I was there, but that was about it.”

After a month in the rehabilitation hospital, Forte’s other health challenges, including quintuple heart bypass surgery, complicated her stroke recovery. She was determined to keep working on it, though, constantly motivated by the staff at Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Montgomery in Alabama.

Eventually, Forte was able to stand as she gave a reading at church. She credits her rehabilitation therapists for enabling her to regain her strength and reach the milestone.

“They were tough,” she said. “It was very hard, but it was a good thing they were, and didn’t just let me lay there. I never had the choice to give up, and that encouraged me like you wouldn’t believe.”

Conway’s Story

George Conway and Vidhya KannanGeorge Conway managed a busy schedule, working 60 hours a week, playing golf, spending time with his family and staying active in the community until a stroke in 2012 suddenly changed his life.

“There were so many things I just could not do,” he said.

Conway, then 68, worked with therapists at Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Northern Virginia in the town of Aldie to overcome his fears, build strength and celebrate every milestone.

“I was astounded at the things I was able to do after only a short time,” he said.

Now, 74, Conway still plays golf, runs, cycles and does Pilates. He even does things he hadn’t done before. He volunteers with a stroke support group at the rehabilitation hospital, offering his support and insight to survivors undergoing therapy.

“My life is different, now” he said. “I would even say it’s better, because now I do things that I want to do.“

The American Stroke Association and Encompass Health share a vision to inspire hope in the stroke community, increase independence after a stroke and reduce stroke mortality.