In 2006, Bjorn and Jacquie Bayley’s family had a very bad year.
That year, their teenaged son David had a bone-marrow transplant to treat his leukemia. Less than three months later, Bjorn suddenly lost use of his left arm.
“My arm just fell down to my side. I didn’t feel any pain. I didn’t feel anything. I kept putting it back on my lap, and it kept falling down,” says Bayley. His family rushed him to the local emergency room.
Bayley had had a stroke, an interruption of the brain’s blood supply. Not everyone survives a stroke — but those who do require excellent follow-up care to return their lives to some semblance of normalcy. For that follow-up care, the Bayleys decided to go to Harborview Medical Center. Not only was the hospital close by, but UW Medicine’s Department of Rehabilitation Medicine was — and is — ranked one of the best in the nation.
The family was not disappointed. During Bayley’s three-week stay on the hospital’s inpatient rehabilitation ward, a team of therapists, doctors and other medical professionals worked with him as he progressed from wheelchair to walker to cane. Jacquie Bayley remembers being reassured by the rehab team’s approach, which included weekly meetings with the Bayleys to answer questions and address concerns. “Those meetings certainly were beneficial,” she says.
In 2008, in gratitude for Bjorn’s care and recovery, the Bayley Family Foundation created the Bayley Family Stroke Care and Research Fund. It was an important gift, says Peter C. Esselman, M.S. ’79, M.D. ’86, Res. ’87, ’90, chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine. “Their investment enabled us to recruit a new stroke-centered faculty member,” he says.
That faculty member is Acting Assistant Professor Paul “Chuwn” Lim, medical director of Harborview’s Stroke Rehabilitation Center. Jacquie Bayley has talked with Lim, and she’s impressed. “I find him very enthusiastic, very positive, full of good ideas,” she says.
One of Lim’s ideas is the purchase of high-tech neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) devices for rehab patients. One device helps stroke patients walk more efficiently; another promotes connections between the brain and hand by stimulating muscles that are weak or paralyzed. “Patients love [the leg NMES] because it’s less bulky than a brace,” Lim says. “It also promotes more equal weight distribution.” In addition to reinforcing neural connections, the NMES for hand therapy helps ease the muscle curling experienced by many stroke patients.
“The Bayley fund will provide [these devices] for patients while they’re still on rehab, so they can try them out and see if they want to purchase one for use at home or during their outpatient therapies,” says Lim.
Today, say the Bayleys, their son David is doing well. Bjorn Bayley reports that although his left hand and foot don’t have as much feeling as they used to, he can walk, drive and travel. And, he says, he just spent an hour at the gym.
“I’m sure that with Dr. Lim’s help, I’ll get even better,” says Bayley.