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Sun, Oct. 13

Physician's assistant, father of 8 recovers from stroke with support of local rehab hospital
Hospital receives Gold Seal of Approval for Advanced Stroke and Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation programs

Robert Dawson in his home.
Courtesy photo

Robert Dawson in his home.

PRESCOTT VALLEY - Fifty-year-old Robert Dawson of Holbrook is no stranger to the medical field. Nor is he one to eschew hard work.

A full-time physician's assistant and father to eight children, Dawson's days were routinely filled with patients, children's concerts and sporting events, sightseeing and travel.

Then in November Dawson's life took a dramatic turn.

As he watched television one night, Dawson found he couldn't get up from the couch.

"I began slurring my speech, and I didn't know where I was," Dawson recalled in a news release.

The medical professional suffered a stroke, one that required he undergo rehabilitation to regain his mobility and independence, a frustrating, and sometimes depressing endeavor made far easier by the professionals at Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation in Prescott Valley, he said.

"I was helpless," Dawson said. "I needed people to teach me how to learn to do the most basic things; it's very difficult and humbling. But, during my stay, the hospital never made me feel embarrassed or humiliated. They were always encouraging."

At Mountain Valley, Dawson was assigned an interdisciplinary team of physicians, rehabilitation nurses, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, physical therapists, respiratory therapists and other around-the-clock staff. The staff's devotion to him was evident with the daily visits from his transport driver, who would come just "to check on me."

"As with every patient, we worked as a team ... to create an individualized care plan that would bring him the best results," says Dr. Alan Berman, medical director of Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. "By doing this, we allowed Robert to receive the specialized care he needed so he could progress at his own pace to regain his abilities."

Dawson is one of 1,300 patients treated every year at Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. The hospital is recognized as being in the top 10 percent of rehabilitation hospitals in the nation for patient care. The hospital is a 40-bed facility on North Windsong Drive that serves those suffering from brain or spinal cord injuries, strokes, orthopedic injuries, and other chronic conditions and illnesses from central and northern Arizona.

The Joint Commission presented the hospital with its Gold Seal of Approval for its Advanced Stroke and Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation programs, officials said in a news release.

"All our patients have access to well-equipped therapy areas to aid in their healing," said Berman of the facility that includes a 6,000-square-foot therapy gym, an aquatic therapy pool, and a therapeutic courtyard to allow practice on different terrains such as ramps, stairs, gravel, dirt, curbs and wood decking.

Dawson and his fellow patients are cared for in a both a daily living suite, as well as with transitional suites, the release said. These areas allow patients to practice daily at-home activities while still under the supervision of a health care professional. Some of these activities may include getting in and out of bed, showering, cooking or doing laundry, the release said.

"Re-learning how to do things was difficult," Dawson said of his monthlong stay. "The first couple of days, I was pretty dizzy and tired, but everyone was very accommodating to my limitations."

Two weeks after his arrival, Dawson started to witness progress: he started to walk again and his speech improved. In time, he was able to eat regular food.

Now back home, Dawson continues to receive outpatient services twice a week, with his hope to regain use of his left hand. With support of his caregivers, Dawson said he walks every day and has resumed attending church on Sundays.

"I have to thank everyone at the hospital from the bottom of my heart," Dawson said in the release. "From the people who served me food, cleaned my room and gave me baths to the therapists, nurses and physicians - they were all like angels. They helped me heal while maintaining my dignity. I felt I could trust everyone, and coming from the medical field, I know how hard it is to do this. It's hard to create a great team, but that's what they have at Mountain Valley Rehabilitation Hospital."

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