After 25 years with the Louisville, Kentucky police department, its former captain, Larry Saar, was enjoying retirement. The 67-year-old had moved to Mandeville, Louisiana in 1997 to be closer to family and marry his partner, Mark. They were excited to begin a real estate agency, travel and spend time together. Unfortunately, their plans were put on hold when Larry suffered a stroke.
On September 19, he was leaving work in Mississippi and began feeling dizzy and lightheaded. He sat in his car, it seemed to clear up and he drove from Picayune, Miss. to Mandeville, La. When he arrived home, he said his right foot was weak and his family noticed he seemed off and took him to St. Tammany Parish Hospital. A CT scan indicated a small brain bleed, and an MRI surfaced the cause of the stroke, a blood clot.
Later that day, a physical therapist from St. Tammany Parish hospital visited Larry and was pleasantly surprised that he was able to walk. His care team determined he’d be able to return home in a few days and participate in outpatient therapy. Unfortunately, the following day the entire right side of Larry’s body became paralyzed. Doctors recommended he participate in inpatient rehabilitation and Larry was transferred to Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital.
Upon admission, Larry had no control of his right arm and little control of his right leg. Both he and Mark were concerned about what the future would bring. “I had no control of the right side of my body,” Larry said. “My goal was to get my mobility back to what it was like before.”
At this point, Larry needed assistance for basic mobility. A team member needed to support him in sitting up or lying down in bed. He required the help of two people for most other activities including transferring from bed to a wheelchair, walking with a walker and navigating up and down the stairs. His mobility issues stemmed from poor coordination of his right leg and the inability to flex his right hip, extend his right knee and lift his right foot, according to his care team.
The care team put together a treatment plan for Larry that would help him strengthen his leg muscles, steady his foot and regain his balance and coordination. Larry began treatment with Bioness, a computer controlled electrical muscle stimulation device designed to automatically flex and contract muscles to allow for coordinated ambulation and muscle retraining. His therapy team also worked with Larry to bear increasingly more weight on his right leg. That, combined with balance and coordination training and safety education, allowed him to start moving again. Larry spent countless hours in the therapy gym every day working to stabilize his foot until he could safely manage ascending and descending stairs. At that point, he said he knew he’d be okay.
Through his hard work and dedicated therapists, Larry made significant progress with his right arm and quickly advanced to using a rolling walker with supervision. “I’ve been through therapy before and this has probably been the best. I would recommend Northshore Rehab to anyone and any doctor,” Larry said. “I’m so thankful I came here. Every day is a new adventure, and I feel like I’ve regained everything.” He also said that he could not have gotten through it without Mark who supported Larry emotionally and handled their real estate business so Larry could focus on recovery.
After three weeks, Larry returned home with the goal of getting back to his old self, going to the gym, working and be able to share his testimony so that he can bring awareness to others.
Larry plans to continue outpatient therapy and will use the tools and knowledge gained at Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital to continue to advance. “If you don’t stick with it and keep involved in the therapy program, it won’t work.”