This month on our blog, we will be discussing a topic that has gotten a lot of positive press in the medical community recently – optimism. Optimism can be simply thought of as ‘looking on the bright side’ of any given situation. With this topic in mind, it is only fitting that our January iStride™ device spotlight user is someone that embodies this notion.

That person, without a doubt, is Lee Surridge!!

Within seconds of meeting Lee, you can tell that he is a ‘glass half full’ kind of person. With a smile and an upbeat attitude, he exudes positivity. Meeting Lee, it would be easy to assume that life’s been a breeze. However, his last few years have been challenging, by any standard, making his positivity even more admirable.

In December 2016, at the age of 59, Lee woke up feeling dizzy and off balance. After several days of having his symptoms characterized as vertigo, Lee learned he had actually suffered a stroke. While receiving treatment in the hospital and preparing to begin rehabilitation, Lee noticed new symptoms emerging and received more troubling news – he had suffered a second stroke, this time more severe.

Regarding this challenging time, Lee recalls:

“The second stroke was bigger than the first and left me with left-sided weakness. I was at rehab eight weeks or so. After I came home, I did home health physical therapy and then outpatient therapy. I also had occupational therapy and speech therapy. All in all, my therapy lasted  approximately nine months. But, after my rehab, I was still having trouble with balance, getting my socks on, eating and cutting food, and I couldn’t do chores around the house. I also still wasn’t able to drive. I was afraid ‘this is as good as it’s going to get,’ but I wanted to keep getting better.”

Instead of becoming discouraged, Lee started taking proactive steps to enhance his recovery. He initially used Uber for transportation, but eventually was able to begin driving again. Another integral part of his recovery was his local YMCA. Lee began exercising independently and taking group fitness classes. Lee recalls, “In the beginning, I’d go to a class at the YMCA and then need to sleep for hours afterwards. It made me so tired but I kept working my way up.” Resisting the urge to become frustrated, he persisted in his efforts. Now, several years later, Lee is a ‘regular’ at his local YMCA, takes classes four times and week, and is on a first-name basis with both staff members and fellow patrons. (I can attest from personal experience that it’s hard to walk more than 10 feet without someone calling out, “Hi there, Lee!”)

When not at the YMCA, you might also find Lee attending meetings with his local stroke support group where he is an active participant. Lee uses his experiences and positive mindset not only to boost his own recovery but to support others in similar situations. Lee states, “I’ve noticed how depressed a lot of people get after a stroke. I try to help and stay positive.”

Lee shares advice with others that has worked well for him, encouraging others to “have a positive outlook and stick with it.” He humbly states,

“I want to give back to others. It’s not about me, it’s about giving others the confidence that they can improve too.”

These days, Lee does have a lot to feel positive about. Over the past 12 months, after treatment with the iStride™ gait device,

He has improved his walking speed by over 0.4m/s, corresponding to a 55% walking speed improvement. Additionally, he has improved his balance scores and reduced his risk for falls on three validated fall prediction measures! Lee credits the device with helping boost confidence in his mobility stating [the device] “made me feel more stable and balanced, which has helped my confidence. I’ve also noticed I’m less reliant on my cane.” Keep up the awesome work, Lee!

We were inspired by our time spent with Lee and hope that telling his story might offer inspiration to others as well! Stay tuned to our blog later this month to learn how maintaining an optimistic mindset can provide tremendous benefit to overall health and wellbeing.

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