SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Nearly 800,000 people suffer a so-called “brain attack” each year including a Lackawanna County man whose severe stroke impaired his ability to walk.
This 54-year-old Dunmore man suffered what’s called a hemorrhagic stroke which caused bleeding inside his brain. He showed up in a wheelchair for his first day of therapy. As Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains, he’s getting his life back on track thanks to cutting edge therapy.
Learning to walk again since suffering a debilitating stroke in December 2016, Tom Notchick puts determination in every single step. Each week for about the past year, he has a date with what’s called “ZeroG” which is a walking therapy system at Allied Services in Scranton. “It really, really makes me feel like I’m doing it,” he said.
By wearing a fitted harness, ZeroG provides Tom as much walking support as he needs while also collecting and monitoring data on his progress. Allied Services Physical Therapist Stacey Williams said, “This has been really, really crucial. We use this with a lot of our stroke patients.”
Initially, ZeroG did nearly a quarter of the lift and balance support Tom required to walk. “Now I’m down to, what, four percent. So, soon it will be no percent,” he said. He’s also up to walking 40 minutes per session. Ms. Williams said, “Every time I reevaluate him, he is showing progress with his balance, his endurance, his walking.”
When Tom first started using the ZeroG, he didn’t immediately go on the treadmill. Instead, the equipment is hooked up to a track that runs along the ceiling. That harness allowed him to take some steps and slowly regain his strength and his ability to walk.
He’s now able to use a cane to walk on his own but his ultimate goal is to ditch that and walk his daughter, Kayleen, independently down the aisle on her wedding day later this year. “I will, I WILL do the walk,” Tom said emphatically. When asked if the thought of that makes him emotional, he said “Yeah, yeah it does. But it’s good. It’s a good emotion.”
Tom plans to do more than walk his daughter down the aisle in November. He also intends to dance at her wedding reception.