Keeping Hope Alive

“Even though we must deal with the storms in life, and we can’t ignore our problems, we must remain hopeful in all that we do and stay full of zeal, even when it’s hard,” said Deb Stouten, who underwent recovery for a stroke at Calvin College Rehabilitation Services (CCRS).

In fall 2015, Stouten developed a large aortic aneurism close to her heart that needed immediate repair. During surgery, Stouten suffered a severe brain bleed that was not discovered until several months later.

The stroke affected her ability to perform everyday tasks. “I had no balance and I couldn’t walk. I was using a walker all the time and had double vision,” she said. After several months of therapy, Stouten was referred to CCRS to continue her recovery.

Throughout her struggle, Stouten said she had to keep her hope alive. “That was the time I really had to look at my faith and rely on God. I tried to focus on my seven beautiful children and 11 grandchildren.”

Before her stroke, Stouten was a motivational speaker. “I had always shared stories of hope, but so many of my stories were about other people,” she said. “Now it’s my story.”

Stouten spent over a year working with CCRS occupational and physical therapists. She has regained much of her balance and walks with only a cane.

“I am a strong believer,” said Stouten. She said her faith, coupled with CCRS, helped her focus on healing, commenting that it was like the rehab staff put all the pieces of the puzzle together.

“Here you feel like you’re a person, not a patient. That’s what makes this place so great; everyone feels really loved and cared for,” said Stouten. “It doesn’t feel clinical here. It’s warm.

“They cared about not just getting my balance back but getting me emotionally stable as well,” she added. “It was bittersweet leaving here. I was excited to be graduating, but these people have become friends.”

Two years ago, Calvin College partnered with Western Michigan University and Grand Valley State University in West Michigan to create CCRS, a high-quality rehabilitation clinic that provides speech-language, occupational, and physical therapy as well as hearing services, neuropsychology, and social work services all under one roof.

The clinic, which has served more than 500 clients to date, is open to the public and participates with most insurance companies.

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