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Patient Story: Al Carson

Al Carson was driving to work when he felt a tingling in his cheek. As he began to lose sensation in his body, he had to pull over at a convenience store. Carson fell getting out of his car, and attendants rushed to call 911.

Carson was taken to Durham Regional Hospital’s emergency department where he was treated for a stroke. The stroke left him paralyzed on the entire right side of his body. Carson was admitted to Durham Regional Hospital and then moved to the rehabilitation unit.

He and his rehabilitation team were not sure he would ever walk again, but he says the wonderful treatment he received changed his life.

“If it were up to me, I wouldn’t have pushed as hard during rehab,” says Carson. “They told me how to do things, then they showed me how to do things, and then they made me do things.”

The therapists challenged him early in his treatment and used various exercises to help him stand, including using a tilt table that helped to tilt him into a standing position.

“When Mr. Carson was first admitted, there were many obstacles to keep him from being discharged,” says Kim Dao, physical therapist. “Rehabilitation goals were basic -- for him to be able to go home, probably with the help of a lift transfer device to maximize safety, and there was a strong chance he would be confined to a wheelchair.”

However, within the first week of therapy, Carson had progressed to not only standing in the parallel bars with one person, but to walking down the parallel bars and then racing down the hallway with just a rail and a physical therapist.

Within another week, he was comfortable moving with a wide-based cane, a foot and ankle device that aids in walking, and someone to help him keep his balance and advance his right side. “His progress was sufficient enough that we had to keep changing goals for him on a weekly basis,” says Dao.

The rehabilitation team credits Carson for his great recovery. “He prevailed with a wonderful attitude toward therapy, always motivated and determined. He continued writing columns for the Oxford Public Ledger where he is the editor, and his wife, Betsy was always by his side with the right ratio of caring and pushing to continually get stronger,” says Angie Webb, occupational therapist.

The Carson’s say that due to the care and training they received on the rehab unit, they felt comfortable and prepared going home after the stroke. They knew what exercises to work on and what to do if he fell or if other situations occurred.

Carson’s rehabilitation care team included physicians, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, recreation therapists, RNs, CNAs, neuropsychologists, and dietitians.

“We never felt anything other than cherished by this loving and caring team. This has been a life-altering experience -- not just the stroke but the people we met have changed our lives,” says Betsy Carson.


The stroke support group at Durham Regional Hospital offers education, support and resources for individuals who have been affected by stroke as well as their family members and caregivers. This group meets the second Monday of each month from 1-2:30 p.m. To register, visit