|Josh Parry, occupational therapist, helps Dennis Ward get back to business restoring his cars.|
The road for Dennis Ward has been very long and winding since he suffered a stroke a year ago. But, with the help of the vintage cars in his shop he is on the road to recovery doing what he does best; working with cars.
Most people who suffer from a stroke are into therapy within two-three days. But for Dennis, two bouts with staph infections, and a case of pneumonia kept him flat on his back, and near death, for five weeks in the hospital. When he pulled through, he was a month behind and the damage from the stroke had taken its toll.
He began his road back with physical therapy to help him with standing and balance. His right side was affected the worst and the use of his hand and leg were very limited.
Now, after much healing and much therapy, he is back where he wants to be, in the shop, working on his cars. The occupational therapists, after working with Dennis at the clinic, decided it was time for him to be in his own element.
"Therapy is not really therapy if it is in a natural setting. If a person is doing what he loves, it isn't considered work. A therapist should see the patient as who he is and Dennis is a mechanic and he restores cars. He has been back in the garage for about two weeks and he has made great progress," said Josh Parry, occupational therapist working out of Castleview Hospital.
Occupational therapy is designed to teach a person the things they need to fill their everyday lives. Once a person is well enough, he should be encouraged to do the things he wants to do.
"That is the best therapy there is," said Scott Cryder, another of Dennis' therapists. "Many motions a person does are learned and cannot be duplicated in the clinic. This is great because his body knows what it takes to sand a car and is helping his muscles relearn the movements. The type of work Dennis is doing in the garage is better than anything. Here, he is working not only on the car, but he is working on his balance, control of his hands and legs, and his large muscle groups."
Parry stated, "The neuromuscular re-education is taking place while he does what he loves. His brain is being rewired by doing familiar activities."
The prognosis for Dennis is pretty good. The more movement he regains, the more the brain is activated. The more the brain is activated, the better the chances are that other things, such as speech, will improve. The occupational therapists work with Dennis in his shop two times a week, and Dennis continues to see a physical therapist at Emery Medical Center, and a speech therapist.
Dennis' family says that his favorite cars are the orphans, the ones that are no longer in production. His collection includes the '48 Plymouth he is working on now, a '50 Hudson, a '35 DeSoto, and a '54 Plymouth convertible. These are only a few of his projects, and all indications are that he has enough work to keep him busy for a long while.
Ward is the long time owner of Wards Auto Body and Repair in Huntington.
Ward is assisted in the business by sons Clayton and Von.