Steve Garza

Spokane, Washington, resident Steve Garza really missed drinking coffee after a stroke this spring made it dangerous for him to drink thin liquids.


Now, thanks to rehabilitation at Alderwood Manor in Spokane, Garza is enjoying his favorite beverage again.


When Garza came to the skilled nursing and rehab center on May 4, 2018, it was only safe for him to drink liquids that were nectar-thick and eat pureed food because of how the stroke affected his right side, including his swallowing muscles on that side. In addition, he had difficulty with lifting his right foot for walking and extending his right knee. He could only walk for about 10 minutes with a walker. His balance was poor, and he was at a high fall risk.


Physical, occupational and speech therapists worked with Garza six days a week to regain his independence.


The PT and OT teams did therapeutic exercises and activities with him, as well as gait training and neuromuscular re-education to get his motor skills back in good working order. They also retrained him in his practical activities of daily living, like getting dressed, bathing and grooming.


Speech therapists used VitalStim® neuromuscular stimulation to help strengthen Garza’s swallowing muscles.


“Steve repeated and practiced his strategies, working hard with exercise and VitalStim therapy,” said Louise Sheard, speech therapist.


Not only can Garza now enjoy his morning cup of joe, but he can eat normal textures of solid food again. He is now able to walk independently indoors and outdoors and take care of all his self-care tasks.


“The staff treated me well,” said Garza. “They have a great therapy team. They worked with my swallowing, and now I can drink regular liquids.”


Garza returned home on June 28.