Stroke kills almost 130,000 Americans each year, and stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability.
Imagine you are a young father busy with kids, work, school and sports. Suddenly, you have a stroke and it all comes to a screeching halt.
One young father had to face that reality, but he was able to kick start his recovery.
Each new day is precious for Brad and Sara Fahrenkamp and their little boys. Brad was a healthy, active father, when suddenly, at age 40, he suffered a stroke.
"I was unable to see, unable to swallow, unable to walk," he said.
After a month in the hospital, Brad got the okay to start rehab, and he was determined to walk again.
Paige Thomas, a neurological physical therapist, said that, for his age and type of stroke, early mobility is critical to start retraining your brain in order to kick start recovery.
"The brain can be molded. So, even if you have damage to certain parts of your brain, you can essentially rewire it to assist and help itself," said Thomas, outpatient therapy manager, UC Health-Drake Center.
Thomas said starting early can help minimize any secondary complications and it helps patients avoid developing compensation patterns.
"The quicker that someone can start beginning therapy, getting up, and moving around, even in the hospital, is the key," Thomas said.
In just six months, Brad's hard work led to a strong recovery and new joy in life.
"It sounds funny, but sometimes it's a matter of just recognizing that it's a beautiful day outside and that's what you should enjoy," he said.
Doctors said even years after a stroke people can continue to regain motor function.
Brad Fahrenkamp continues a rigorous therapy schedule at home to help his body and brain relearn what they once did so easily. He said the more he moves the more independent he feels.