Mark Dunham was a busy man leading up to the stroke that changed his whole life. A CEO of a trade association, lobbyist, elected official and being a board member for the College of Western Idaho were all daily responsibilities until the moment a massive stroke hit and Dunham ended up at Saint Alphonsus Hospital.
The stroke paralyzed Dunham’s right side and kept him from communicating his thoughts.
Dunham explained that, “I was so scared because I couldn't talk. I couldn't tell them what I was feeling. I thought I was going to die."
Following the stroke, Dunham began rehab and ended up in a unique facility called “Easy Street.”
Therapists had to re-teach Dunham basic skills such as getting into a car and grabbing food from the market.
Easy Street’s focus is to recreate real world situations and allows specialist to tailor rehab programs to fit individual needs.
Although progress was slow and frustrating for Dunham at times, a moment of clarity came in the form of a small red fruit. He picked up an apple and was able to identify it. It was the key to unlock his communications.
“It’s almost as if a light switch turned on. I started to remember a lot of things. I started to remember my name -- 'oh, my name is Mark.'" he said.
Today, Dunham is back to being a community leader and living his life but with a greater sense of appreciation of his surroundings and family.
Therapists at Saint Al’s use Easy Street for both occupation and physical therapy to not only help stroke victims but people with brain injuries, knee replacements and breathing disorders.