Left to right: Cheryl Elliot, physical therapist assistant; Ervin Joe; Stephanie Snow, occupational therapist assistant; and Jill Haaser, speech therapist

Ervin Joe suffered a stroke on Oct. 6, 2017, and needed rehabilitation in order to regain his abilities to walk and take care of himself.


When Joe came to Life Care Center of Paradise Valley in Phoenix, Arizona, on Oct. 28, he needed maximum assistance with self-care and was not able to move his right arm. He was only able to walk in the parallel bars, and he needed help to stand up and sit down.


The stroke had also affected Joe’s facial and throat muscles, impacting his speech and swallowing abilities. He was restricted to eating soft foods like ground meats, yogurt and mashed potatoes, and his liquids had to be thickened for safe swallowing. He had difficulty smiling or showing facial expressions and was unable to follow simple commands.


Physical, occupational and speech therapists began working with Joe. Physical therapy addressed his balance and walking skills. Therapists also used manual therapy to improve joint mobility, which improved his range of motion and function. Occupational therapy used electrical stimulation to help re-educate his muscles and focused on helping him relearn his daily living activities. Speech therapy taught Joe how to swallow and speak better, as well as think more clearly.


Joe is now able to take care of himself with minimal assistance and propel himself in his wheelchair to activities in the facility. He can walk as long as someone is nearby in case he needs help.


As far as his swallowing goes, Joe can eat and drink regular textures again and can speak in very short sentences. He can write simple words, express his basic needs and follow multiple-step commands.


“You are all great,” Joe told his therapists.


“Ervin’s determination and hard work have gotten him to where he is today,” said Todd Pelton, director of rehab services. “His kind smile and sense of humor brighten everyone’s day who he comes into contact with.”