Justin's Story

Jan 1, 2020

The name Justin Walker is known in Detroit’s music circles. Justin plays guitar for several local bands and has a fan following.  But in February of 2019 the music stopped.

“I was home not feeling well. I’m diabetic, so I thought something was going on with that. I tried to take a blood test and couldn’t lift my arm. Thankfully, my friend knew right away what was happening and called 911.”

Justin was taken to Detroit Receiving Hospital where he was diagnosed with a stroke. A blood vessel burst in his head and he was paralyzed on the right side and had trouble talking.

“Within minutes my life’s passion was gone. I couldn’t play guitar or sing anymore.  It was really upsetting.”

After four days, Justin was transferred to the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan’s Neuroscience Unit.

Spending several hours a day doing physical, occupational and speech therapy, Justin saw small improvements.  But when his therapists incorporated music into his rehab, he got into the groove.

“My speech therapist would put on music to sing to. For some reason that was easier than talking. Another therapist had me drag a coin through Play-Doh, which was kind of like using a guitar pick and really helped me get my strumming motion back.  And, early on, I had my guitar at the hospital but could only play with my left hand, so one of my therapists played the right. It felt great to be making music again and really gave me encouragement to keep on going.”

Today, Justin is back on stage. While he still has a way to go, he can play, walk unassisted and talk clearly.

“My therapists were so professional and really took their jobs seriously. They got me back performing and I can’t wait for them to come out to hear me play.”