Avera Medical Minute: Getting back to doing what you love after a stroke

Published: Jun. 27, 2023 at 10:00 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A stroke occurs when an artery to the brain is either blocked or bursts. It’s something that can happen at any time.

That’s why if you’re experiencing any symptoms, the sooner you get to a hospital, the better. And Avera McKennan just received certification that puts stroke care a step above others in the region.

One woman is sharing her stroke story and the work she’s putting in to get her life back.

Weeks of rehab at Avera have been beneficial for Sharilyn Reemstma, who had a stroke at the end of March.

“I couldn’t move, so you first get up, and you lean on the leg that can feel yet, but everything was limp or dead, and so it really took a lot of therapy and grit on my part and everyone around me to encourage that,” said Reemstma.

While she’s been making progress, she admits she didn’t even realize she was having symptoms of a stroke at first.

“I got up on a Friday morning, and I was dizzy, and I remained dizzy, but I did my day like I always do, and I thought I had an ear infection or inner ear infection because of the dizziness. I didn’t really think about a stroke at all,” said Reemstma. “I woke up halfway through the night unable to roll over, so then we called the ambulance, and they came.”

It’s important to know what those symptoms are, so you can get help as soon as possible.

“Any vision changes, weakness in the face, issues with balance, trouble speaking, or confusion should be monitored and taken to the ER as soon as possible for assessment of possible stroke,” said physiatrist, Adil Shaikh.

During her time in rehab, Sharilyn has been spending time doing exercises that will help improve her functionality.

“Our rehab unit here at Avera has a lot of different things that are specialized for stroke, so all our nursing staff is trained and certified in stroke rehab. We have physicians who have done specialization in treatment of people who have strokes and other ailments that they can get rehab on,” said Shaikh.

Avera McKennan received a comprehensive stroke center certification.

“We have met the national guidelines and requirements to provide all levels of stroke care to patients who may have acute and evolving stroke at any given time,” said neurologist William Rossing.

It’s the only facility in the region to have this.

“We have endovascular doctors who are on call 24/7, we have neurologists who are on call 24/7, and we have ED and nursing care and EMS services that are all clued into the fact that if a patient comes in needing stroke-related care, they are all on board, educated, and ready to provide the top level of service that any patient would need,” said Rossing.

That includes Reemstma, who is now on track to doing what she loves once again.

“I play the piano, and that isn’t back yet, but it is coming. I’ve worked hard, and I continue to work hard at home, so it’ll be back,” said Reemstma.

Reemstma is taking it one day at a time with support along the way.

“I have a very bright outlook for my future, thanks to the rehab and everything,” said Reemstma.

For more information on stroke awareness and risk factors, visit avera.org/medicalminute.