Emmaus resident goes from Zumba instructor to stroke rehab patient
Emmaus resident Jackie Quinton enjoyed her participation first as a Zumba dancer, then as an instructor for the high-energy fitness program.
It came as a puzzle when she experienced weakness in her right side during one of her fitness classes in April, after two years leading Zumba enthusiasts. She said her right side felt funny," said her daughter, Emily, who was called to assist her mother after class participants noticed that something was wrong. Quinton also fell, but brushed it off as exhaustion from doing too much.
Four days later, on April 28, while visiting a friend in Pennsburg, she was in the throes of a major stroke from a blood clot in her neck.
"She was 90 percent blocked in her left carotid," her daughter said. The cerebral hemorrhage left Quinton with right side paralysis and loss of speech. After an extended stay at Lehigh Valley Hospital – Cedar Crest, where a stent was inserted into her carotid artery to prevent further damage, Quinton was transferred to the Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital in Allentown.
Extensive inpatient vocational, speech and physical therapy at Good Shepherd allowed Quinton to return to her Emmaus home in July with a constant home care companion.
While a return of limited speech function helps her communicate with family and her care provider, she struggles with page after page of words in continuing in-home and outpatient speech therapy exercises. She likes to mouth the new words she has recently learned to use when friends or family come to visit, often surprising listeners with long multi-syllable words that are not part of everyday conversation, but she gets a kick, and a few chuckles, when she uses them.
Three days a week, her home care provider transports her to Good Shepherd for ongoing therapy.
It is there a high-tech bionic suit is helping Quinton to re-learn to walk. Good Shepherd is the first health-care organization in North America to receive new variable assist software for its EKSO bionic exoskeleton.
The EKSO is a wearable bionic suit, created and produced by Ekso Bionics, of Richmond, Calif., which allows patients with lower extremity paralysis to stand and walk.
When an ABC news team showed up at Good Shepherd in late July to film one of Quinton's therapy sessions in the robotic suit, Quinton gave WPVI health reporter Ali Gorman a thumbs-up salute as the suit was being strapped on, and told her the bionic device was "excellent." A replay of the therapy session can be found on the internet at: http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news/health&id=9194155.
While Quinton continues her slow and laborious rehabilitation efforts, bills and medical expenses continue to mount. While no longer having a source of income, Quinton faces financial uncertainty as well as physical disability.
However, Quinton has had an abundance of moral support from friends in the Zumba instructor community, and several of them have banded together to provide financial help as well.
This weekend, Sept. 28, those friends are sponsoring a "Zumbathon" charity benefit event at Shoemaker Elementary School, 4068 North Fairview St., Emmaus to help raise funds to help defray Quinton's medical expenses.
Tickets for two hours of Zumba activity are available at the door. For additional information, contact Kim Bosak at 484-894-8384.