What does stroke rehabilitation look like during a global pandemic?
DALLAS, July 14, 2020 — Timothy Omundson, known for his roles on “Judging Amy”, “This is Us” and “Psych,” had a stroke in 2017 that left him unable to walk. He credits an inpatient rehabilitation center and family support in getting him where he is today.
In a new podcast, which is part of an American Heart Association and American Stroke Association series on the impact of COVID-19 on the stroke community, Omundson shares his experience with immediate stroke recovery and how he continues therapy at home during the pandemic.
“Ignorance was bliss because I didn’t quite know, until I was really living in it, how bad [my stroke] was. And it was a massive stroke,” said Omundson, who experienced reduced eyesight and other disabilities. “The only thing I knew to about it was to continue to move forward.”
Immediately after his stroke, Omundson began inpatient rehabilitation and spent months working to regain the ability to walk. Now several years later, he continues daily rehabilitation at home, walking on a treadmill and doing exercises he learned in therapy.
Elissa Charbonneau, M.S., D.O., chief medical officer of Encompass Health and an American Stroke Association volunteer, joins Omundson on the podcast to explain the importance of the “golden time” — the period after a stroke when the brain is best able to recover.
She also explains how the pandemic might be obstructing that window for some patients.
“There is a critical period of neuroplasticity — which is the brain’s ability to create new connections where there has been damage from a stroke,” Charbonneau said. “The early period after a stroke is really, really crucial for helping the brain to establish those connections again.”
But experts believe people who have had strokes are not going to the emergency room or to rehabilitation centers because of fear of COVID-19, she said.
Health care facilities are following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to ensure patients who need rehabilitation services can safely take advantage of those early months after a stroke, even during the pandemic, Charbonneau said. In the podcast, she offers resources and tips to help stroke survivors and their families navigate recovery during this time.
About the American Stroke Association
The American Stroke Association is a relentless force for a world with fewer strokes and longer, healthier lives. We team with millions of volunteers and donors to ensure equitable health and stroke care in all communities. We work to prevent, treat and beat stroke by funding innovative research, fighting for the public’s health, and providing lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based association was created in 1998 as a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-888-4STROKE or visit strokeassociation.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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