NEW ORLEANS - It's the true definition of a win-win situation as stroke patients in need of help, teamed up with health students in need of training. The emotional benefit to both sides is even greater.
Aubrey Jones was a jazz sax player and waiter, until a stroke took the use of his left hand. But his rehabilitation therapy came to an abrupt end because health insurance quit paying.
"That's not a good thing. Therapy is an ongoing thing like diet and exercise. This is something that you need to continue to help you recover back to a point where you feel comfortable with your life," said Jones, 60.
The same thing happened to another patient Gilmore Wheeler.
"The sad thing about this is we know from current neuroscience that recovery continues to happen in the brain, and they can continue to make progress," explained Dr. Barbara Doucet, LSUHSC Stroke Clinic Coordinator.
But the stroke clinic downtown at LSU Health Sciences Center is stepping in. Students getting a masters degree in occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech and language therapy, are giving stroke patients free rehabilitation. It not only gives them hands-on experience in their future professions but patients say it's life-changing.
"When they came along with this, this was a blessing for me. This really brightens up my life," said stroke patient Gilmore Wheeler.
"It means the world to me because what it does, these people are allowing me to rehabilitate myself," said Jones.
Doucet says people who are having strokes are getting younger and younger. The average age used to be 65. Now the average age is 55. One patient in the clinic named Chirstine, is only 44 and has a 15-year-old daughter and is a physical therapist.
The physical gains are measurable. The emotional ones are even more priceless.
The program got a grant to provide patients with free transportation too.
If you want to see if you qualify for the stroke clinic call 504-568-4302. You will go through a screening.