Kelly’s Story – Striking Back at Stroke

Young woman credits recovery to Daniel Drake Center program.

By Dama Ewbank

When Kelly Marsh woke up at UC Medical Center eight years ago, she assumed she’d been asleep for just hours. It would take her a while to understand that she’d been sleeping for weeks, and even longer before she would learn that she’d had a stroke.

She was alive, but couldn’t drink, eat, walk, talk or read.

“I needed to read and write again,” said Marsh, who, at the time, was a 36-year-old chief marketing officer at a Tristate college.

But it would be a long road to recovery. Weeks at UC Medical Center turned into more weeks at Daniel Drake Center for Post-Acute Care, where Marsh’s husband, Brad, recalls watching his wife’s  first failed attempts to match numbers and colors during a simple game of Uno. He would become more optimistic just days later when her color and number pairings improved.

More than two months after her stroke—and after a follow-up surgery to replace a portion of her skull that had been removed to alleviate swelling—Marsh was well enough to go home and begin outpatient therapy.

She’d eventually enroll in the Stroke Team Assessment and Recovery Treatment (START) Program at Daniel Drake Center with hopes of regaining even more of her normal function. She credits much of her recovery to the program’s interdisciplinary team of physicians, therapists and researchers dedicated to helping patients continue to regain function and mobility well after the optimal post-stroke recovery period.

Today, despite some paralysis on her right side, Marsh is able to walk and drive, and has sought ways to continue her recovery while also helping other young stroke survivors. In the fall of 2016, she and her husband released a book, Love Stroke, documenting the perspective of both the patient and their partner/caregiver.

Marsh’s neurologist, Brett Kissela, MD, chair of the UC Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine, and member of the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute, wrote the book’s forward. The Marshes are now creating a foundation to provide grants to stroke and traumatic brain injury survivors for medical equipment or devices necessary for a more complete recovery.