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Kokomo woman rebuilds life after stroke, experts say learning warning signs can save a life

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Posted at 4:57 AM, Jun 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-07 07:35:21-04

KOKOMO — Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke.

Knowing the warning signs can help you save the life of someone you love in crisis.

That’s true for one Kokomo woman, who says swift action from her husband is the reason she’s alive today.

Jessica Rush once carried a 500 pound car frame on her back, winning her the title of World’s Strongest Woman in 2019.

She's a mother-of-two, a math teacher at Western High School and most recently, a stroke survivor.

The morning of February 12, she and her husband were getting ready for church, when she felt sick and had to lie down.

“My husband said that he thought that I was sleeping but then said no there’s something wrong," Rush said.

The next thing she remembers is waking up in the hospital.

She says thankfully her husband Nick — who is an occupational therapist — recognized the signs of a stroke and jumped into action.

She says he saved her life.

"He’s awesome. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without him," Rush said.

Acting fast is key to surviving a stroke.

The CDC says patients who arrive at the emergency room within 3 hours of their first symptoms often have less disability 3 months after a stroke than those who received delayed care.

“You have a very limited window to get the patient to the right hospital," neuroradiologist Dr. Daniel Sahlein said.

Dr. Sahlein says Ascension St. Vincent Indianapolis is the largest comprehensive stroke center in the Hoosier state.

“Our rates of successfully opening the vessel are extremely high, in the 95 percent plus range. The challenge is getting the patients into the hospital on time," he said. “We can treat patients, even when it appears that a huge part of their brain is already injured beyond the point of no return.”

Dr. Sahlein says that was the case with Rush, whose clot was removed in one piece at first try.

Now — Rush spends five days a week rebuilding her muscle and mind at Team Rehab Physical Therapy in Kokomo, with her husband’s encouraging voice to guide her.

“I get all the sensation, but some times I get numb, I guess a little bit," Rush said.

Her goal is to be back in the classroom in August, with the doctor’s approval.

“Whatever you’re willing to do. He said that he thinks I will be good. So I’m like okay that’s what I’m going to do," she said.

Experts want you to act “fast” and remember this acronym :

F — face drooping. Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person's smile uneven?

A - Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S = Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred?

T = Time to Call 911 – Every minute counts. Call 911 immediately.