Meet Karen, a RIO Aquatics client who participates in a special exercise program designed for individuals recovering from a stroke. Her husband wrote the following inspiring story about her, sharing how much RIO Aquatics has helped her recover.
“Karen Johnson Perlof was born and raised in Orange, California. Her road to recovery began September 2nd, 2014, just two days before her 52nd birthday, when she suffered a hemorrhagic stroke in the right quadrant of her brain that doctors would later refer to as ‘catastrophic’. The early prognosis was grim. Doctors gave her a 5% chance of surviving and we were told that even if she woke up, it was unlikely she would breathe or eat on her own. After two brain surgeries and 28 days recovering in the CCU at Western Med, Karen was moved to a skilled nursing facility where she spent the next 3 months continuing to heal and learning to breathe. She had another surgery to have her traq tubing removed and once she was breathing independently and communicating she started all 3 disciplines of therapy. In February 2015, Karen was strong enough to come home with the help of her husband. She was still unable to stand, but she was driven to grow stronger and become more independent. After a 6 month program at St. Jude’s she was able to stand but lacked any balance to do so steadily. Her stroke had left her with complete left-side neglect- the inability to move her left leg and arm or even turn her head entirely to the left. Several of her therapists recommended pool therapy with the hope that it would help retrain her brain to move her left leg while gaining balance and the confidence to move without falling.
Before Karen’s stoke, she and her husband regularly visited a restaurant in Old Town Tustin for Monday night football where they had the same waitress, Morgan, every night. While Karen was having an MRI at Western Med one day, her husband went to lunch and was filling Morgan in on Karen’s progress, explaining that they were looking to find a facility that could provide the much needed pool therapy. It turns out that Morgan’s Mom, Irene, is an Aquatics Instructor at RIO who specializes in helping people who’ve had strokes (small world!) and a week later Karen was in the pool. Her recovery began to excel and she loved the feeling of the water relieving the weight off her left leg, enabling her to take those first steps. Since February 2015 Karen has been visiting RIO for Aquatics 3 days a week. Since then, she has progressed from being unable to balance standing and minimal left leg movement to standing on her own and walking alone in the pool. She now walks, nearly unassisted, with a ‘herma’ walker outside of the water. The staff at RIO are truly incredible and have become family to us. It has become Karen’s favorite form of therapy and she loves getting in the pool with Irene. The difference in her physical ability, confidence and drive to gain independence have improved significantly in her time at RIO. We are so thankful for all of the hard work and help in moving Karen forward in her recovery, and we look forward to the day she can walk out of the pool!”