Jarell's Story

Jarell Geaga stands in the front lobby.

Jarell Geaga was happy working as a therapy aid at Dignity Health Rehabilitation Hospital and spending time with wife Mildred, and their three children, Jared, Justin and Janell, going to the movies and to church on Sundays. However, the 43-year-old faced an unexpected challenge when he woke early one morning with a severe headache.

When he tried to stand up, he lost his balance and the rest was a blur. His wife called 911 and Jarell was taken by ambulance to the local hospital where it was determined that he had suffered a stroke due to a burst brain aneurysm. After eight days in the hospital, Jarell was ready for inpatient rehabilitation and selected Dignity Health because he knew first-hand the great quality of care he would receive.

Upon admission, Jarell was experiencing right-side weakness resulting in difficulty walking and moving his arm. He also required maximal assistance for all selfcare activities. Although he was eating a regular diet, Jarell was coughing occasionally and required swallowing supervision.

Jarell’s physical therapist and occupational therapist both used robotics equipment to help stimulate his nerves and re-educate his right arm and leg muscles. A gait-training device was also used in combination with a treadmill to assist in balance and muscle strength as Jarell was relearning to walk. Jarell worked on self-care tasks such as bathing and dressing with his occupational therapy team. Speech therapy worked with Jarell on relearning to speak, problem solving and memory exercises.

Jarell’s family was instrumental in his recovery. Memorably, during therapy sessions while working on tall kneeling squats, his daughter was there to give him a kiss for encouragement each time he squatted down. Mildred was there daily for moral support and learned how to help him with toileting, dressing, stretches for his hand, exercises for his arm and leg and walking. As part of family training, Jarell’s therapist also taught his 16- and 17-year old sons how to help guide him during walks.

Jarell already knew the staff from his own work at the hospital, and his experience as a patient only strengthened those bonds. Previously, he counted many to be friends but after his time in rehabilitation, he considered them family. “Everyone was so encouraging. I believe that those in healthcare have a passion for helping others,” he said. “That’s what I felt when I was here, and what I want to share with others when I’m back in the caregiver role.”

In an unexpected twist, Jarell’s father fell ill and was admitted to the same hospital. Sadly, his father was in his last days, but Jarell and his family were grateful for the excellent care he received and the opportunity to be together during this challenging time. Jarell was moved by his father’s passing, motivating him to get stronger, carry on his father’s legacy and be there for his family.
After nearly a month and a half, Jarell was ready for discharge. He was able to walk over 200 feet with just the assistance of a cane, ascend/descend 15 steps and take care of all his self-care needs. Jarell’s communication, problem solving and memory had all also improved, and he no longer required supervision for his meals.

Upon discharge from Dignity Health Rehabilitation Hospital Jarell shared, “This experience has been a blessing.” He looked forward to being with his family and sleeping in his own bed. He
committed to continue rebuilding his strength through outpatient therapy with Dignity Health Physical Therapy - Henderson Adult Neurologic Rehabilitation, the only neuro-specialized outpatient therapy center in the Las Vegas valley.

At Dignity Health Physical Therapy, Jarrell’s team focused on neuromuscular re-education with repetitive exercises and activities focused on improving the use of his right hand and arm. Activities such as grasping and releasing buttons and picking up and moving objects on his right side—under the guidance of his therapist—helped improve his dexterity and grip strength. Jarell was hopeful he could someday return to work at Dignity Health Rehabilitation Hospital, so he worked hard during his outpatient physical and occupational therapy sessions to rebuild his strength and coordination.

His determination paid off—he was soon contacted by human resources at Dignity Health Rehabilitation Hospital about an open receptionist position. Jarell was happy to return to work in that role (roughly three months after being discharged there as a patient), and the entire team was excited to welcome him back.