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Stroke Comeback Center helps young stroke victim | News

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Stroke Comeback Center helps young stroke victim

VIENNA, Va. (WUSA9) -- A bad headache. That was the sign Christie Arnold missed eight years ago.

Since she never got headaches, she figured it was just stress-related because she'd been working a lot.

"I took some Advil and figured I'd be all good," Arnold, 38, recalled.

But it wasn't.

"I had a blood clot in my brain," she explained. At only 30-years-old, Arnold had a massive stroke. She spent six months in a hospital and another two in rehab.

"There was every reason to believe she'd never be able walk," said Darlene Williamson, Executive Director of the Stroke Comeback Center in Vienna, Virginia.

Arnold couldn't talk ether, and there were only two works she could say: "The people."

"Everything was 'the people.' If I was hungry, I could only say, 'the people.' It was funny. I couldn't wait to be able to start being able to talk, you know?" said Arnold.

Now she's talking, walking, and even volunteering at the place that is still helping her recover, the Stroke Comeback Center which Williamson founded ten years ago.

Williamson worked in a hospital and got tired of telling people they had to leave because their insurance wouldn't cover any more.

"Nobody can pay out of their pocket to get long term coverage. So I figured there had to be solution for it, and the Stroke Comeback Center is it," said Williamson.

The center's focus is on speech and helping people with aphasia, a language impairment caused by a brain injury.

The Stroke Comeback Center also has group exercise classes which have been essential for Arnold's recovery.

"Christie is a miracle, for sure. But there are so many more miracles possible. That's the point. With the proper direction, the proper treatment, the proper support, and the will and the personality, the sky is the limit," said Williamson.

Christie Arnold has no doubt that she will keep getting back more function.

"Absolutely. Oh, 100%! "I will do this until I die. You know what I'm saying?"


The Stroke Comeback Center is holding its Gala next week at the USATODAY building in McLean. The newspaper is owned by Gannett, also the owner of WUSA9. Peggy Fox is emceeing that event and the center is giving an award to USA TODAY.

Written by Peggy Fox