A stroke of gratitude

Allan Campbell shares his story of recovery at both London Health Sciences Centre and Parkwood Institute after experiencing a devastating stroke

Allen in Parkwood garden

Like any other night, Allan Campbell went to bed after a long day of work. Little did he know that at 11:45 pm - his life would forever change.  No longer a typical start to the week, Allan woke up in the middle of the night unable to walk or communicate after suffering from a devastating stroke. A night he won’t soon forget.

He managed to pull himself up into a sitting position on the side of his bed, but while attempting to make his way to the bathroom – he collapsed onto the floor. His wife, Sharon, who was startled by the fall, immediately called 911. Two paramedics placed him on a stretcher and rushed him to London Health Sciences Centre’s (LHSC) Emergency Department at University Hospital.

“I thought I was going to die,” says Allan. “I was pretty sure this might be the end.”

Allan, 54, was taken to the Acute Stroke Unit on the seventh floor of University Hospital where he spent the next several weeks in recovery.

University Hospital is the Southwestern Ontario Stroke Network (SWOSN)’s Regional Stroke Centre, one of 11 similar centres across Ontario. As the Regional Stroke Centre, LHSC provides specialized stroke care and prevention.

On a feeding tube and still unable to communicate, Allan slowly began his long journey of recovery. Supported by a team of dedicated staff, Allan was soon able to bear weight and successfully use the therapy bars – regaining both his strength and independence.  

After weeks of hard work and rehabilitation in hospital, he was surrounded by something he will never take for granted – his family. LHSC staff made it possible for Allan to attend his niece’s wedding day. With a driver and wheelchair provided, the opportunity to see her walk down the aisle with friends and family still stirs up emotion in him to this day.

“They went above and beyond what they were asked to do,” he says. “I am very grateful for the outstanding staff at LHSC and the care I received. I really felt they took a genuine interest in my recovery.”

After seven weeks of acute care at LHSC, Allan’s care transitioned to Parkwood Institute’s Stroke Rehabilitation Program where Allan and his family caregivers were supported to complete his recovery and rehabilitation. “They had me walking three to four times a day over a 45-minute period,” says Allan. “They taught me how to slide from my wheelchair into my bed and into my car – things I never thought I would be able to do again.” 

With the help of Parkwood Institute’s Community Stroke Rehabilitation Team (CSRT), Allan was able to return to his home a few months later. CSRT provides therapy in a variety of settings, including the home, for adults recovering from stroke. CSRT partners with the South West Local Health Integration Network (South West LHIN), Home and Community Care and primary care providers in the community to ensure stroke survivors are provided individualized care. Over the past few years, the South West LHIN in partnership with the Southwestern Ontario Stroke Network have worked with hospitals and community health care providers across the region to improve the quality of stroke care across the care continuum and improve the outcomes of stroke survivors.

Allan has made significant gains through this rehabilitation and recovery at both LHSC and Parkwood Institute. Over a five month period, he regained his ability to swallow, to speak and to walk with the assistance of a walker. He is even planning to return to work on a part-time basis.

“They really did give me my life back,” says Allan of the care he received at both organizations. “You really have to trust the process and the staff from the hospitals. They know what they are doing – listen to their expertise - and you will see the results.”

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