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Edna man eyes recovery after stroke (video)

By Keldy Ortiz
March 21, 2013 at 9:04 p.m.
Updated March 20, 2013 at 10:21 p.m.

62-year-old Freddie Callis is recuperating from a stroke that has affected the right side of his body. An outpouring of support from his family and friends in the community of Edna gives him a reason to stay motivated to endure the extensive speech and occupational therapy.

Stroke statistics:

• 795,000 Americans suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year

• Strokes are considered the fourth-leading cause of death.

• About 40 percent of stroke deaths occur in males and 60 percent in females.

Source: American Stroke Association

EDNA - Every four minutes someone dies of a stroke - but Freddie Callis chooses not to prove that statistic.

For now, the 62-year-old has a love and hate relationship with the walker he uses daily. He's still getting use to it.

One day, he knows he will be rid of it.

"I'm so use to doing things myself," he said. "I've never been use to something that was new."

Callis arrived in January to Southbrooke Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center after he suffered a stroke. The stroke affected the right side of his body, limiting his ability to move and speak. He arrived to the nursing home bedridden.

With the help of physical and speech therapists, Callis, a native of Edna, has regained strength quickly, uncommon for people who have had a stroke. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, patients who suffer a stroke take months or years to regain the same strength and form they once were.

"Considering the severity of what he was in, he is doing really, really well," said Terri Conner, a physical therapist at Southbrooke, who has cared for Callis. "He promised me that he's going to help my daughter play volleyball, so we have to get him better."

According to the American Stroke Association, strokes occur when a blood clot blocks an artery.

At 6:30 every morning, Callis wakes up to begin his therapy. First up is speech therapy using flash cards to help his enunciation of words.

"I would have never thought this would have happened," he said. "I was a little afraid, but I keep motivated. When you hear people say you're doing great, that means a lot."

Callis' speech therapist Jeanne Trombly agreed that his speech has improved from when he first arrived. During his therapy sessions, Callis would recite 50 sentences and 50 questions. He still has a bit of slip ups.

"He wants to say more than he can," said Trombly. "I hear full sentences from him. Before, it was hard to get one word out of him."

Next is physical therapy, where Callis leaves his wheelchair to walk through the hallways, with a walker. Callis said he's getting better with walking but has problems with moving his right hand.

"The movement is not there yet," he said about his hand. "I don't want to look at nothing negative. I look at everything positive."

Glenda Bailey, 67, is Callis' cousin, but they consider each other brother and sister. She visits every week to check on him. She said it was hard to see him in the beginning of his rehabilitation.

"He was very slurred. You could hardly understand him," said Bailey. "Now, if he takes his time, he can talk pretty good."

Callis said he himself has seen improvement in his ability to walk and speak. He hopes to get out of the nursing home in the next few months.

Unfortunately, he will be without one of his biggest supporters - his mother Freddie Lee Callis, who died March 9 at age 82. Although she is gone, he believes he will still make strides forward.

"I'm going to make sure things are going right," Callis said.

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