Ethel's story

Ethel Harris works with her therapists.

Ethel Harris, 68, lives in Harrisburg, PA, and enjoys working in a thrift store and visiting flea markets and yard sales. She is extremely family-oriented and loves spending time with her eight children and more than 30 grandchildren.

One night Ethel awoke in the middle of the night with a severe headache. When she tried to get out of bed, she realized she was also unbalanced and having trouble with her vision. She couldn’t see her phone to dial 911, so she managed to make her way outside to a neighbor’s and they called for help. Since she had previously suffered a stroke in 2019 with similar symptoms, she was not surprised that the tests at the hospital revealed that she had suffered another one.

After a few days in the acute care hospital, Ethel was ready for transfer to a rehabilitation hospital. Her challenges included decreased strength and visual changes on her left side, inability to walk, needing assistance with self-care activities as well as anxiety and depression about her limitations. Ethel says that she selected Helen M. Simpson Rehabilitation Hospital because, “I wanted to get good care in a safe place, and I wanted my therapists to challenge me.” Upon admission, her goals were to improve her mobility so she could take care of herself and return home.

Ethel spent nearly a month at Helen M. Simpson Rehabilitation Hospital working with her physical therapy and occupational therapy teams on strength, walking and vision training. Ethel recalled, “I didn’t expect to achieve my goals so quickly but my rehabilitation team motivated me, cheered me on the entire time and gave me the spirit to keep going even when I was feeling low.” For example, while Ethel found vision therapy to be challenging, she was told it was critical in order to progress from a walker to a cane.

It was all worth it when Ethel received her discharge date and realized that she had reached her goal to return home safely. Her advice to others on a recovery journey is to put in the work during therapy: “If you don’t put anything out, you can’t expect anything in return.”