Left to right: Narendra Saraf, director of rehab; Chase Moder, occupational therapist; Toni Johnston; Stephanie Eaton, speech therapist; and Alec Cangelosi, student physical therapist

Toni Johnston came to Life Care Center of Kansas City, Kansas, after having a stroke.


When Johnston arrived on Nov. 2, 2017, she was unsteady on her feet and at a high fall risk. She could only walk about 500 feet in six minutes, and she had difficulty swallowing, which meant she needed to have liquids thickened in order to drink. Because the stroke affected her right side, including her dominant hand, she also needed moderate assistance to take care of basic tasks like bathing and getting dressed.


Physical, occupational and speech therapists all began working with Johnston to help her recover her independence.


In physical therapy, Johnston focused on balance exercises and endurance activities. Meanwhile, her occupational therapy centered a lot on her increasing the use of her hand in activities of daily life. The occupational therapy team used mirror neuron activation therapy, in which a person mirrors the actions of another, to help her regain function in her hand and arm. Speech therapists worked with her on her swallowing.


Johnston can now walk up to 1,020 feet in six minutes, is at a low fall risk and can take care of her daily needs again. She can also drink normal liquids again.


“I am happy to go home and drink thin liquids,” Johnston said.


Johnston went home with her sister on Feb. 28, 2018.