Walking Away from Brain Injury

Covenant Health Therapy Center – West Knoxville helps patient get back on his feet

“It was the scariest moment of my life,” Debbie Schrimpsher says of the day her husband lost his ability to communicate in July 2021. A year later, Dustin’s quality of life has been restored.”

It’s a warm, sunny day at the park. Dustin and Debbie Schrimpsher stroll along a walkway and settle onto benches at a picnic table. They look like a typical happy couple, and casual observers would likely be shocked to learn what they’ve been through.

Just a year ago, Dustin suffered a stroke and brain bleed that left him bedridden, paralyzed on one side of his body and unable to communicate.

Many medical professionals had a part in helping Dustin get to where he is today. Covenant Health Therapy Center – West Knoxville took him from sitting in a wheelchair to walking in the park.

“Those people didn’t give up on you,” Debbie says to Dustin. “And you never stopped. Your drive and their drive was incredible.”

A Brain in Trouble

Dustin doesn’t say a lot. Speech is still a struggle, but thanks to speech therapy at Covenant Health Therapy Center – West Knoxville, his ability to communicate is much better than it was. The occupational therapy and physical therapy have helped him make even greater strides in strength, stability and mobility.

It’s hard for Debbie to talk about the July day the stroke happened. She had been aware that Dustin had a headache, but never suspected a stroke until Dustin called her that afternoon. She heard her husband’s voice on the phone uttering only garbled sounds she couldn’t understand.

“It was the scariest moment of my life,” she says. “I’ve had a lot of losses, but this was the worst thing in the world.”

A few days later neurosurgery specialist Joel Norman, MD, performed an emergency craniotomy at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center to treat the bleeding brain. At Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center, Dustin progressed to sitting up in a wheelchair and making a few intelligible sounds.

Dustin was discharged from rehabilitation in mid-July and sent home, still in a wheelchair with lots of hard work ahead of him to restore basic communication skills.

For Debbie, it wasn’t just the physical limitations that were devastating. The husband she had built a life with couldn’t communicate. He couldn’t form words, and he couldn’t even write his thoughts on paper or type them on a computer.

Regaining Quality of Life

Madison Ledbetter, Physical Therapist

Covenant Health Therapy Center – West Knoxville is dedicated to providing exceptional physical therapy and individualized treatment. At Dustin’s first appointment, the therapists asked him what his personal goal would be.

“I wanted to walk again,” Dustin says with a grin, “and you know, I’m walking.” There is emotion in his voice as he recalls how overwhelming his circumstances seemed at the time.

“I was concerned. My right leg was suffering from paralysis, my right arm was suffering from paralysis and the right side of my mouth – paralysis,” Dustin says. “But you just keep your head up.”

Gradually the expert therapy and Dustin’s hard work began to result in milestones of recovery. Debbie snapped a picture as he curled his fingers into a fist for the first time. He was able to hold a fork and feed himself again.

One day as he was leaving physical therapy, Dustin realized he could do something else he hadn’t been able to do in a long time.

“I remember that I came out of a therapy session and I put my coat on and I’m like, ‘I just put my coat on! Hey!’” Dustin says. “They’ve done a lot for me.”

“Dustin made remarkable progress, and it was amazing to see his mobility and quality of life improve over time,” says physical therapist Madison Ledbetter, a certified stroke rehabilitation specialist at the therapy center. “His hard work, determination, and willingness and flexibility to attend therapies and try different tasks and exercises facilitated his recovery to his prior level.”

Embracing Life

Today there are still a few remnants of the near death experience Dustin survived. Carrying on a conversation requires some extra effort as he forms his thoughts into speech.

“He really struggles to find the words and say complete sentences,” Debbie says, “but when he started therapy, he couldn’t talk at all or read or write. Now he is doing a little of all of those things.”

The aftereffects completely pale in comparison to the extraordinary recovery of a man who is on his feet and embracing life today.

“Really, it’s a blur. I’ve experienced so much,” Dustin says. ”Now I’m ready to go on with life! I’m glad to be alive.”

If you or a loved one are in need of therapy services, ask your physician about a referral to Covenant Therapy Center – West Knoxville, or call (865) 531-5710 for more information about

Healing and Hope

The first time Debbie Schrimpsher brought her husband to Covenant Health Therapy Center – West Knoxville, he was in a wheelchair and barely able to communicate. She needed help, and they both needed hope.

“I’ve never seen people like that before. They were just so involved in his care. It made me feel good because, being a caregiver, I knew I wasn’t on my own,” Debbie says.

“Everyone at Covenant Health Therapy Center was so incredibly caring and committed to helping my husband recover,” Debbie says. “They were also there for me when I needed support. Words cannot express my heartfelt appreciation for their professionalism, encouragement and care during this difficult time.”

Covenant Therapy Centers provide personalized therapy with an emphasis on one on-one care. The physical therapists, speech therapists and occupational therapists are highly trained in special techniques and hold certifications that designate extensive knowledge in treating complex conditions.

Covenant Health Therapy Center West Knoxville offers patients help and hope through a variety of therapies:

  • Orthopedic/Sports Injuries
  • Neck/Back Pain
  • Hand Therapy
  • Pelvic Health
  • Dry Needling
  • Workplace Injuries
  • Neurological/Stroke Rehab
  • Big and Loud program for Parkinson’s disease
  • Balance/Dizziness
  • Cancer Rehab
  • Lymphedema Therapy

To learn more about therapy through Parkwest Medical Center, call (865) 531-5710 or visit CovenantHealth.com/Covenant-Therapy-West-Knoxville.





























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