Maddi and I met about three years ago while each of us were on our own journey to improve our mobility. Maddi’s mantra these days is “Obstacles are opportunities”. I cannot think of anyone who embodies this mantra better than her. Maddi’s journey of improving her mobility began at twenty-two just after graduating from college. For years Maddi had terrible migraines leading to further investigation that revealed she had an Arteriovenous malformation (AVM). An AVM is the abnormal formation of blood vessels placing the individual at risk for both an ischemic stroke (claudication of a blood vessel) and hemorrhagic stroke (rupture of blood vessel). Each type of stroke leads to a lack of oxygen to the affected areas of the brain resulting in brain damage.
Every passing year put Maddi at a greater risk for a stroke and so after completing her degree she decided to go in for neurosurgery. While being prepped for surgery one of Maddi’s vessels ruptured resulting in a brain hemorrhage requiring intensive surgery and placing her in a life-threatening situation. Luckily, she survived, but not without portions of her brain, specifically her right parietal lobe, damaged. Due to the brain damage Maddi had left sided weakness and loss of sensation. Maddi was unable to move or feel her left arm and leg at all. This resulted in difficulties with things like sitting up in bed, standing, dressing, bathing and walking.
Once Maddi was medically stable, she was transferred to an inpatient facility, known for neurorehabilitation, where she spent weeks learning how to move all over again. Everything from getting out of bed to putting her shoes on, she had to relearn all of it. As she progressed, she became stronger and movement started to return to her left side. With the movement came spasticity, difficulty coordinating complex tasks, and little ability to fine tune her movement. These new challenges opened the way for new opportunities of movement. Maddi went from not moving her left side at all to learning how to use these new movement patterns to perform everyday activities. Maddi was not moving like she did before the stroke, but she was getting closer to independence.
After leaving inpatient rehabilitation Maddi continued therapy in the outpatient setting, continuing with occupational therapy, cognitive therapy, and physical therapy to improve upon her new abilities. Maddi went on to set high goals and implemented effective strategies to complete each of her goals. Every week she made improvements in her newfound mobility, learning how to move a little more each day. For example: Maddi began outpatient physical therapy walking with a quad cane and a rigid ankle foot orthosis (AFO) the distance of thirty feet with someone close to her, to walking without any assistive device for unlimited distances and even practicing without any AFO at all.
Once completing her first bout of outpatient therapy Maddi continued with her journey of mobility to the Taub clinic where she received Constraint Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT). At the clinic Maddi received intensive therapy where she was only able to use her affected side while her non-affected side was constrained. Maddi had to use her affected side for every single task forcing her body to build new networks within her brain to complete each task. CIMT is based on the theory of Learned Non-Use which posits that once injury to the brain occurs that effects movement, we change our behavior and begin to only use the non-affected limbs for tasks because it is easier. Doctor Taub discovered, in his groundbreaking research, that if we change our behavior and force ourselves to use the affected side, we can make substantial progress in rehabilitation of our affected limbs. Disclaimer: CIMT is not a one sized fit all therapy and like all treatment methods it works for some and not for others. If you are interested in CIMT please speak with your physical therapist or physician. For more information on CIMT see UAB Medicine
Maddi continues with her journey of mobility by completing bouts of physical and occupational therapy yearly to set new goals and address any issues that might come up as she continues to make progress. Maddi currently walks three miles a day and continues to work on exercises for her left arm and leg that allow her to increase her independence. During her recovery process Maddi has not only worked on her mobility but has taken the time during to write a book on the process entitled Fast FWD: The Fully Recovered Mindset. Maddi also has an Instagram account where she shares her experience and educates others on the fully recovered mindset.
Maddi is an individual who embodies the fully recovered mindset. Maddi has been able to take a very challenging life altering event, and see it as an opportunity. As much of a physical recovery Maddi has made, she has equally made a psychological one as well. Maddi is one of the most dedicated individuals I know, and it shows in her mindset, grit, and positivity. While she has had help by countless individuals along her journey it is her dedication that has led her to where she is on her own journey of mobility today.
You can read Maddi’s full story in Fast FWD: The Fully Recovered Mindset Also, see her first book Fashion FWD: How Today’s Culture Shapes Tomorrows Fashion You can connect with Maddi at Maddi’s Stroke of Luck and on Instagram at maddiestrokeofluck.
What is your story of mobility? I would love to hear it.