Ruth's story

Ruth Ann wearing a green jacket and sitting in a chair by a window in her hospital room.

Ruth Ann Parchman, 70, was very independent and working as a Cuisinart demonstrator at Macy’s. Prior to that, she was a music teacher with the Cincinnati Public School system and also sang classical music and opera. She met her husband, Ken, when he returned from the Army, and they’ve been married nearly 45 years. They have three sons, three daughters-in-law and six grandchildren. Ruth Ann’s favorite thing is spending time with her family, and they get together often.

In January, Ruth Ann started experiencing confusion, weakness on the right side of her body and speech issues. She has no memory of this time, but her family noticed something wasn’t right and took her to a local hospital for testing. The medical team performed a CT scan which revealed Ruth Ann had a stroke.

She was admitted and stayed in the hospital for nearly two weeks until she was medically stable and strong enough for therapy.  Her family chose TriHealth Rehabilitation Hospital for the next step in Ruth Ann’s recovery.

When she arrived, she struggled with balance, confusion and needed assistance just to get out of bed and perform basic self-care tasks, such as bathing, grooming and feeding. “In the beginning when I was out of it, I didn’t even know who I was or where I was,” said Ruth Ann. “I couldn’t do anything for myself.” She also experienced issues with her vision, unable to see everything on her right side. Her goal was to become more independent and return home to her family.

In physical therapy, Ruth Ann performed arm and leg exercises to regain strength. Once she achieved that as well as balance, she quickly made progress with walking. She started out slow, walking in the hallways with her therapist and a rolling walker. Over time, she advanced to walking more than 200 feet and going up and down 15 steps with supervision.

Occupational therapists set out to help Ruth Ann become more independent with self-care and daily living skills. They even had her in the kitchen learning to cook again. She also had to learn how to write and eat with her left hand because she still wasn’t able to use her right hand.

Ruth Ann also put in a lot of hard work during speech therapy. She experienced aphasia, a language disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate.  “The aphasia was making things very difficult and so I don’t know if I will be able to continue singing in the choirs,” said Ruth Ann. “If things keep going well and I continue to recover, maybe I’ll get back to it one day.” Her speech therapists also used quizzes and games to help Ruth Ann improve her memory and problem solving deficits. Over time, Ruth Ann began to understand simple questions, directions and conversation relating to wants and needs. She was also able to regain memory of information relating to people, routines, overall health and safety.

Ruth Ann credits the support of her family with helping her get better. “Two of my sons, Teddy and Andy live nearby and they were very supportive,” said Ruth Ann. “My family and friends from all over have been so supportive -- from sending prayers to sending food to my family and our neighbors shoveling the snow for us. We are so lucky to have such dear friends.” Ken also attended family training to ensure he was ready to help Ruth Ann when she returned home. “He’s gotten the first floor all set up at our house so that I don’t have to go upstairs when I get home. He also got equipment for me to make the bathroom and shower easier.” She also gives credit to the therapy team for all they did to help her. “The therapy staff here has made it possible for me to progress towards my goals. They have all been so wonderful through all of this. I’m really going to miss them.”

After three weeks at TriHealth Rehabilitation Hospital, Ruth Ann discharged home able to walk and perform daily living activities with some help from Ken. She was most looking forward to spending time with her entire family and getting back to her life before the stroke.