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Stroke took movement away – Pilates gave it back

As an insulin diabetic since age 14, in my mid forties I started experiencing retinal issues. In 2003, I suddenly experienced a retinal detachment. Surgery was immediately performed. Three surgeries in all in three months. During the third surgery there was a complication. I woke up a week later, having had a stroke during surgery, from a coma lasting several days and had lost sight in my left eye. I was unable to move anything on my left side, unable to stand and walk and not able to accurately communicate my thoughts when speaking. I had opened a Pilates studio in 1997 and was teaching Pilates at the time this happened. After a two-week stay in the hospital where the physical therapist was unable to help me, I was released.

At first I did not want to be seen, but my husband made me get up and walk short and then longer distances with him. I had a frozen shoulder, so an outside physical therapist told me that as a Pilates instructor I already knew what to do to help myself. He was right. I had Pilates equipment in my home, so I began my own “rehab” there. With only one eye left, I had no depth perception. I had to learn how to function without depth perception and how to regain balance and control of my own body. I had to regain the strength I had lost. After six months I was fitted with a prosthetic eye and returned to teach in my own studio. My brain, as I was told, had rewired itself, so I had to relearn to cue properly. More determined to move, I resumed ballroom dancing in conjunction with Pilates and began competing.

Pilates helped enhance my dancing and once again I felt whole. In the years since my stroke, I have completed a program with Pilates Elder Lolita San Miguel. Sixteen years after I opened my studio, I am not only teaching clients daily, but am also a Balanced Body Faculty member and teaching Pilates instructors to become teachers.

Author: Submitted by Patricia Welter
Location: Palm Harbor, FL
Occupation: Pilates instructor and studio owner

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4 Comments to “Stroke took movement away – Pilates gave it back”

  1. Thank you Pilates is Health for sharing my story about what Pilates has done for me.

  2. I know Patricia from attending several Pilates events together including the Pilates Day in Monchengladbach, Germany! I honestly did not know of this story and am amazed at her spectacular return to health! Yet another great example of what can be achieved by practicing Pilates! Great story!

  3. I took the time to read your story; I am so amazed at the strength, will, and courage you have inside yourself. I’m glad we connected recently through Facebook and am looking forward to getting to know you better!
    Francene Perel

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