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Our Patients

    • Robert Cumberbatch

      Robert Cumberbatch


      Thanksgiving was approaching. Robert Cumberbatch and his wife, Karen, had traveled from Arizona to neighboring New Mexico to spend the holiday with loved ones.

      As Robert got out of the car, the right side of his face drooped alarmingly. He spoke, but didn’t make sense. Karen dialed 911 and the 55-year-old pastor was raced to the emergency room.

      Scans revealed Robert, an avid runner, sustained a large intracranial hemorrhage. He was bleeding on his brain.

      It took several days for doctors in New Mexico to stabilize Robert. On December 4, he was transferred to a hospital closer to home. After evaluating options, Karen chose HonorHealth Rehabilitation Hospital in Scottsdale, Arizona, to give Robert more time to heal in a hospital dedicated to restoring function and mobility. He arrived at the rehabilitation hospital on December 13.

      Robert arrived eager to resume the active life he had before his stroke, which included running. The first few days were difficult. At first, Robert thought he could bounce right back to activity. Then, as his physical challenges became clear, he experienced depression. It took time, but Robert realized that these feelings were part of his journey and he had to keep an open mind about the different stages of recovery.

      “I had to realize that it takes time for your body to heal, and that I had to give it that time without giving up,” he said.

      Robert’s biggest concern when he was first admitted was his speech. He had severe dysarthria – weakness in the muscles used for speech. That, combined with an accent, made it hard to understand him. He was also drooling a lot as well, which he was embarrassed about. To help with his speech challenges, Robert’s therapists did a treatment called VitalStim. They placed electrodes on his cheek and, combined with verbal expression tasks and exercises, they were able to get him back to communicating his wants and needs and telling frequent jokes. They also worked on his cognition – memory, problem solving, reasoning and attention. They provided strategies for memory and completed functional tasks for cognition to help him get back some of the independence he had prior to his stroke.

      When Robert was evaluated for physical therapy, they determined he required moderate assistance for moving around in bed, transferring from one surface to another and wheelchair mobility. He was also unable to walk or take a step forward even with two people assisting him. Robert’s ultimate goal was to walk out the front door of rehabilitation with Karen when he discharged home. His physical therapists, focused on weight bearing, strengthening, neuromuscular re-education, motor control, standing balance, trunk and core stability and gait training. After four weeks, Robert was using a cane to walk 210 feet with only minimal assistance due to impaired motor control of right leg. He required limited assistance for transfers and was independent for bed mobility. He also got the hang of pushing his wheelchair using one arm and one leg up and down the hallways. During his hallway adventures, Robert made a point to greet every staff member and patient he encountered. 

      In occupational therapy, Robert focused on neuro re-education of his right arm and hand. Karen is a nurse, and she provided assistance with his daily living tasks, such as bathing and dressing. That allowed Robert’s occupational therapists to focus on recovering function in his arm. Stretching his right shoulder complex, right arm, wrist and digits was an everyday part of treatment. Weight bearing through that right arm was also a daily aspect of nearly every treatment. He received occasional electrical stimulation to the muscle near his ribs. Treatments also focused on active assisted range of motion activities which consisted of Robert using his left arm to assist his right arm in functional movements. Because of his improvement in shoulder and arm function, Robert was able to perform oral hygiene and bathing tasks without assistance and performed dressing tasks with very little assistance needed.

      As a pastor, spirituality is an important part of Robert’s overall well-being. Because of this, prayer was incorporated into his daily treatments with a healing prayer provided in the courtyard after each session.  

      Therapists also participated in family training with Karen in order to ensure a smooth and safe discharge. Karen was involved throughout his rehabilitation stay, spending almost every night in a cot next to his bed and getting him ready and dressed for the day in order for him to maximize his time in therapy. She also worked with Robert on speech and memory strategies outside of his therapy sessions.

      Robert achieved many goals set for him by his rehabilitation team. He was communicating without drooling, walking and transferring with minimal assist and able to bath and groom himself without help. By the time of discharge, he was independent with expressive language and his drooling was virtually non-existent thanks to his therapy sessions. He was on a modified diet when he arrived, and when he left he was on a regular textured diet. Knowing that he was only going to continue to improve, Robert also set a personal goal for himself: a year from now, he plans to be running again.

      “I realized that with HonorHealth Rehabilitation’s help I could get to a level, but it was up to me to make that happen,” he said. He also said his therapists, Jaron and Veronica, were especially helpful in his recovery.

      On February 7, Robert walked out of our hospital. As he did, his therapy team and others gathered in a large group to sing and clap him down the hall. He was an inspiration to everyone on staff due to his emotional strength and “can do” attitude.  He was affectionately known as “Mr. Mayor” because he was so friendly and social, singing “good morning” and “good afternoon” to everyone he saw.

      Robert plans to continue his recovery with outpatient therapy and hopes to turn his experience into a motivational speech. He’d like to help others and show them that healing is possible.

      “HonorHealth Rehabilitation is there to help with the next steps after a life-changing event,” he said. “They, along with the patients, are the ones who help. It’s important to ‘go for the stars.’ Setbacks are only temporary.”