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After suffering stroke, local man getting back to a 'new normal'

“I just started getting weak and my right side stopped working. I didn’t have any strength and I was wondering what happened to me.”

LARGO, Fla. — A local man is making incredible progress after a stroke last year quite literally brought him to his knees.

Andre Jones spent about a month in the hospital last October after collapsing during a recreational football game. He’s getting back to a new normal, thanks to support from therapists at HCA Florida Largo Hospital. The 42-year-old says he suffered the stroke right on the field. 

“I just started getting weak and my right side stopped working. I didn’t have any strength and I was wondering what happened to me,” Jones said. 

A total shock for an active guy who thought he was in great health. He thanks his friends today for their quick thinking on the field. 

“My co-worker at the time, he called the paramedics and they were able to come and get me.” 

When Jones arrived at the hospital, he couldn’t walk or talk. In the months that have passed, he’s gotten back on his feet and is working on his mobility. 

He can partially lift his arm, “I need to get it back to 100 percent but I wasn’t able to lift it at all.” 

He says, “I’m 10 times better than I was, so today, I’m able to walk. I’m able to talk a little bit. I can stand up on my own, so I’m very grateful to see this day because I came a long way.”

Patricia Coates, RN, CRRN leader of rehabilitation for HCA Florida Largo Hospital, says the quick actions to get treatment for Andre helped save his life and reminds people to remember the acronym F.A.S.T., which the American Stroke Association uses to help raise awareness about the signs of a stroke.

F – Face drooping. Coates says, “the things that you want to look for are at their face, have they had any facial changes in expression, does one side of the face look weak?”

A – Arm weakness. Coates says, “ask someone to put their arms up, are they able to hold both arms up equally?”

S – Speech difficulty. Coates explains people suffering a stroke may “start to slur, they may not understand what you’re saying or be able to communicate.”

T – Time to call 911. It’s important to get to the hospital, Coates says “It is a true medical emergency.”

Right now, Jones is receiving customized care to strengthen his stability and speech. He says, while he thought he was in good shape, he hadn’t been to the doctor in a few years and knew that high blood pressure ran in his family.

Coates says it’s a scary reminder that it’s important to keep up with an annual exam so that your doctor can help track your numbers and risk factors.

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