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FITNESS: Port Moody rec complex a path to recovery for stroke victim
Bruce Landon opens the door to the workout room at the Port Moody recreation complex, makes his way to one of the three modified cardio machines and starts to cycle his right arm.
It’s what the 66-year-old Anmore resident has done about five times a week for the past four years or so, ever since he suffered a stroke that nearly took his life in September 2007.
Then, Landon — a 25-year Douglas College instructor who has a PhD in experimental social psychology from Rutgers University — was at home blogging when he fell to the floor.
His longtime partner, Nancy Maloney, was out and didn’t find him for two hours. “He wasn’t able to speak but he was conscious,” she said.
Maloney dialled 911. And, from there, she remembered, a lengthy period of treatment, rehabilitation and waiting began.
Fortunately, over the next few weeks, Landon’s situation improved and, eventually, he was able to leave RCH for in-patient treatment at ERH for 10 weeks. He functioned little but by December — four months after the stroke had occurred — he was released.
Still, Landon was told by Fraser Health he had to wait 11 months for outpatient rehab. In the meantime, he and Maloney went for care in Vancouver that included speech therapy and physiotherapy.
By the fall of 2008, the couple had a personal trainer and received special permission from the city of Port Moody to bring the outside therapist to the PoMo rec complex.
The next year, the complex’s kinesiologist Maria Morano — who works with clients suffering from Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, with hip replacements, back problems and recovering from surgeries, for example — started exercise rehabilitation with Landon on a weekly basis, reconnecting with her former psychology prof.
But the costs mounted quickly and Landon was faced with the difficult decision of not being able to continue.
Melissa Evanson, the city’s recreation planner, said Landon’s luck soon changed: a friend of his neighbour’s — a stranger — heard his story and paid for about $1,500 worth of personal training. And last December, Landon was the one millionth visitor to walk through the facility’s doors, winning him a lifetime membership. “It was wonderful news,” Maloney said.
The financial relief has allowed the couple to focus on what’s important: Landon’s well-being and recovery. Besides the modified cardio machines, he also uses weights and the upstairs track to improve his strength, balance and co-ordination, Morano said.
“I remember when he first started, he was on the recumbent bike and I had to put his feet in the pedals and help him push,” she said. “He doesn’t need that anymore.... There’s been a huge change in his life.”
Today, Landon has limited visibility in his left eye and is slowly improving the right side of his body, which was partially paralyzed, “but it’s better,” he said, gesturing. He recalls having Maloney helping him use a spoon for cereal in the beginning because he kept missing his mouth; now, with his rehab, he can do it on his own.
In a recent electronic speech to Doug College students (see it at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92noF8ErriQ), Landon stated: “Stroke recovery is hard work. New areas of the brain had to be trained to replace damaged areas.”
And, with Morano’s help, “His body is functioning much better, too,” Maloney said. “It’s just been phenomenal to witness.”