Young Mother Rebuilds Life After Stroke

Web Producer: Kerry Corum

Imagine being a 29-year-old mother of an eight-month-old baby, and suffering a stroke.

It happened to Brande Springer of  Evansville. It was a complete shock for Brande, to have a stroke at such a young age. She can pick up her daughter, but picking up anything else is a struggle. Occupational therapist Jennifer Zigenfus says, "The problem is she's not getting a lot of straightening of those fingers." So every day, Brande practices fine motor skills with her therapist. Zigenfus says, "Since that is what she really needs, to open baby jars and diaper Stefanie and put clothes on a wiggling 8 month old, we've really been focusing on her hand function and her strength."

Brande lost that strength one morning last month, when she woke up and couldn't move the left side of her body. The diagnosis was a stroke that really couldn't be explained. She tells us, "Doctor said I'm a perfectly healthy person, except I had a stroke."

Therapists figured out a way to incorporate motherhood into Brande's therapy schedule. During in-patient therapy, Grandma brought little Stefanie in three times a day, so Mom could nurse her. Brande said, "It was like everywhere I'd get transferred to I was like, 'My baby needs to come with me,' and it was good because it kept her with me. And I needed her with me, you know?" Mom needed a reason to keep going.

The ability to walk came back right away, but not the use of her left arm. After weeks of practice her efforts finally started to pay off. Brande says, "To turn your arm up, that was very difficult. That took me about three weeks and you don't think about what muscles you use to do that. So that's part of the battle."

A battle that didn't end once she got home. Changing Stefanie's diaper was her first mission. "I was like, 'I've got to be able to do this, so I'm just going to do this.' It wasn't pretty. It wasn't the perfectly snapped little diaper, but it was on her." Her next goals are buckling up a car seat and driving. Brande knows she may not be able to do everything she once did, but she'll make sure little Stefanie never knows the difference.

Brande will need daily therapy for at least another month. Chances are good she'll be back to normal. If not, she'll learn ways to compensate for her disabilities. She's a great mom and so is her own mother. Brande's mom took off work for 12 weeks to care for her daughter and granddaughter.