Emily's Story

Brain Injury

Stroke survivor speaks up in favor of RIM

On January 2, 2016, Emily Cleveland returned from Michigan to finish her master’s degree at Ball State University. While watching a movie that night, a friend realized Emily was slurring words and the rightEmily2017 side of her face was drooping.

Arriving at the ER unresponsive, doctors discovered a large brain bleed and she was airlifted to Indianapolis.

Her family had the choice of waiting for her brain to absorb the bleed, which she most likely wouldn’t survive, or a high-risk surgery. If she survived the surgery, doctors didn’t know what functions would return.

“We had to give her a fighting chance of recovery and went ahead with surgery. The procedure removed 85% of the bleed, more than expected,” said Hannah Cleveland, Emily’s sister.

Emily spent several weeks in ICU. Her stroke had caused right-sided weakness and expressive aphasia, or the inability to understand or express speech caused by brain damage. Selecting a rehab hospital was the next major decision. A friend recommended DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan (RIM).  

When she arrived at RIM inpatient, it took two people to get her out of bed and she didn’t know how to function using just the left side of her body. Yet it was her inability to communicate that was most frustrating.

Speech, occupational and physical therapy began immediately. She spent six weeks doing daily therapy and eventually walked out of RIM on March 1, using a cane.   

Emily continues to improve with outpatient therapy at RIM’s Novi Center. “Her therapists have told her they want her to walk and talk like a 26 year old again. Recovery from a stroke is measured not in months, but in years. But from where she was in January to now, it’s absolutely amazing.” said Hannah.

When asked about the fantastic therapists she worked with at both locations, Emily’s response is “Woohoo!”

RIM's specialized inpatient and outpatient brain injury rehabilitation programs have been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). CARF recognized our programs as meeting the highest standards in quality, safety and outcome measures. To learn more visit RIMrehab.org/brain-injury-therapy.