Stroke Survivor Vows to Cheer K-State On To Victory

stroke rehab madonna rehabilitation hospital
Overall stroke numbers are down nationwide, but the American Heart Association says new research shows stroke hospitalizations increased by 43.8 percent for young people between the ages of 25 and 44 years old.

Kansan Aaron Beckwith puts a face to that statistic. At 35, he suffered a stroke earlier this year. Through his recovery at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, he’s got one goal in mind: cheering the wildcats to victory this fall.


Aaron Beckwith shares a light-hearted moment with his therapist during a physical therapy session.
“He’s always joking around with them, acting like he doesn’t want to work, he’s just giving them a hard time," laughs Erin Josefiak,
Aaron’s girlfriend. But the stroke he suffered in late January was no laughing matter. “I happened to wake up and he was pushing on me. Pushing me out of bed. That’s when I woke up and realized that he couldn’t talk or do anything,” recalls Erin.

An ambulance took Aaron to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita where he spent a week in the ICU. He came to Madonna Rehabilitation Specialty Hospital in early February for recovery. "They had him up and he walked I think 40 steps. From that day forward he just kept progressing at everything," said Erin.

The stroke affected the right side of his body. At 35, he's not alone. The American Heart Association says new research shows stroke hospitalizations for people between the ages of 25 to 44 has increased 43.8 percent, although total stroke numbers are down. For Aaron, staff organized an impromptu tunnel walk to encourage and congratulate the Wildcat enthusiast on milestones.

While physically he's made quick, significant gains, speech has proved more difficult. “He’s got the words right there on the tip of his tongue a lot of the time but they just go away. He can’t get them out as easy as he’d like,” said Erin.

Through intensive language practice and computer games in Madonna's Language and Cognition Lab, Aaron is getting his words back. "It needs to be novel and it needs to be new and really the best way to stimulate our brain is if it’s going to be fun. That’s where games really do meet that sweet spot that if I can get you motivated and engaged and challenged we can have some fun and work on some skills along the way,” said Suzanne, Seberg, M.S. CCC-SLP, Inpatient Communication Disorders clinical director for Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital.

Skills that will go a long way for Aaron as he works to achieve his goals of going back to work and ... "He wants to get better by fall so we can go to the football games," said Erin.

“Fight for victory. Go state!” Chants Aaron.