Lynn-Born Priest Overcomes Stroke with a "Little Help" from his Friends
Father John Carroll Experiences Healing Power of Prayer, Rehab Firsthand
WOBURN, MA, February 7, 2005 - As a hospital chaplain for 13 years in various Boston hospitals, Lynn native Father John Carroll had lent his counsel and prayer to many patients who had experienced strokes. But he probably never thought he would have one himself. Nor did the good father, who serves the congregation at St. Anthony's Church in Woburn, dream that he would need the power of prayer that he had offered his patients on so many occasions.
The incident began rather uneventfully. On October 2, following a restless night of sleep, the 56-year-old Father Carroll woke up with numbness in his left arm. As it worsened and he found himself unable to move his left hand, he realized something was wrong. After an examination at nearby Winchester hospital, it was confirmed that he had suffered a Transient Ischemic Attack - a "warning stroke." Not only was he unable to move his left arm or hand, his left leg was virtually useless as well. Following a four-day stay at the hospital to stabilize his condition, Father Carroll, who has served as a priest for over 23 years, was transferred to New England Rehabilitation Hospital (NERH) for inpatient rehab.
NERH set up an intensive therapy regimen for him, including occupational therapy, physical therapy, cognitive training, and sessions with a neuropsychologist. Following his discharge on October 27, he continued the aggressive therapy sessions as an outpatient. Eventually, he regained almost full use of his left hand and has also been able to greatly strengthen his left leg. And although he still has some problem with his right leg, which was overworked while his left leg was recovering, he is expected to have a full recovery in the spring of this year.
Father Carroll made it clear that the expert therapy has been instrumental in his recovery.
"The people at New England Rehab have been fantastic," he said. "Their expertise, as well as their compassion, made this process much easier that it could have been otherwise - and far more successful."
Father Carroll also credits the use of NERH's AutoAmbulator as an integral part of his improvement. The device was conceived to more effectively treat patients with a variety of neurological conditions that affect walking and balance, such as stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson's disease. NERH and Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital (HBRN) in Braintree, Mass., are the only rehabilitation facilities in New England - and two of only six nationwide - that have this device.
While the rehab, the staff, and the high-tech machinery were "godsends," according to Father Carroll, he was insistent that another factor in his recovery should not be underestimated.
"A number of people in my parish told me that they prayed for me after they heard about my stroke," he said. "I know that was a huge reason why I made as strong a recovery as I did. There is no doubt in my mind about the power of prayer."