Cozann Hernandez, RehabCentre Patient

Cozann Hernandez - Mt. Pleasant, MI

"They really helped me out to make me stronger."

The RehabCentre Helped Her Overcome a Brain Hemorrhage

Cozann Hernandez has devoted her life to her children. She has five in total, two of whom have already grown up and moved out of the house and three she is still raising on her own. When she isn't working at a local fan motor factory or taking care of her kids, she volunteers in her community.

While volunteering at a community event last November, she started feeling poorly. Cozann returned home with an upset stomach and laid down. After trying unsuccessfully to fall asleep for some time, she realized something was very wrong. Her oldest daughter called 911 for her, and by the time the ambulance arrived Cozann wasn't even able to walk out of the house. She doesn't remember anything after being put into the ambulance.

It turned out that Cozann was suffering from a hemorrhagic stroke - a bleed in her brain that interfered with some of her normal neurological functions. The bleed was on the left side of her brain, which controls the right side of her body. The staff at the hospital were able to stop the bleeding and get her stabilized, but her entire right side was affected. She couldn't move her right arm or leg and wasn't able to speak. Even the vision in her right eye had been impacted.

Once she was out of intensive care, it was clear that she was going to need extensive help building up the coordination between her brain and her muscles again. She was transferred to the RehabCentre at MyMichigan Medical Center Alma. There, she began a comprehensive therapy regimen to get her eye, arm, leg and voice working again.

At the RehabCentre, Cozann participated in physical and occupational therapy six days per week, Monday through Saturday. Her therapists worked with her to help her regain enough strength and coordination in her leg so that she could walk again. They also worked on her upper body strength to get her arm back into working shape. Part of her therapy involved spending time in the spa bath to help her muscles loosen up.

Cozann also received speech therapy to build her vocal cord strength and coordination. The therapy was clearly successful, as she speaks perfectly now. For a while she had a patch placed over her left eye to help her right eye build up its strength on its own again. "They really helped me out to make me stronger," she said.

While still caring for a family, the sudden onset of a stroke was a major challenge. "It didn't affect just me, it affected my family," she said.

Cozann became particularly determined to power through her rehab when her own mother was admitted in December, dealing with a breathing problem. "I was pressing on to show her my strength," Cozann said.

The staff at the RehabCentre knew how important Cozann's family was to her and wanted to do what they could to bring her comfort during her stay. At one time, her ninth grade son was performing in a play, which Cozann wished tremendously she could go see. Though usually patients need to stay at the RehabCentre during their rehabilitation period, the staff allowed Cozann to take a brief outing to see her son's performance. On the day of the show, one of the nurses brought in her mother, a professional stylist. She gussied up Hernandez with a beautiful hairdo and makeup. Once she was ready, her children picked her up and took her out to the theater. "It showed me how much they cared by doing this for me," she said. "It made me feel good."

Cozann started feeling better physically too. She is walking much better than before, and the strength in her right arm has improved. Each feeling of accomplishment along the way, like the first time making a sandwich on her own, gave her motivation to keep up with her work.

Now, Cozann is back at home with her family. After completing her stay at the RehabCentre, she underwent physical therapy at home for six weeks. Therapists from MyMichigan would come to her house and help her with exercises where she was at. Once she was able to get around better, she began visiting the outpatient clinic for therapy.

Cozann is very glad to have her strength back and to be with her children again. She was able to see one of her daughters graduate high school in May. "Never give up the hope, never give up your faith," she said, a mantra she believes in and which she advises others going through a situation like hers. "You just got to keep on pressing through and you'll get there."

The RehabCentre at MyMichigan Medical Center Alma is a hospital-based unit specializing in intensive physical, occupational, recreational and speech therapy. Patients receive a minimum of three hours of therapy each day, along with 24-hour nursing and physician care. Those who would like more information may visit www.mymichigan.org/rehabcentre.

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