Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and the fifth leading cause of death, according to the American Heart/American Stroke Association. However, about 80 percent of strokes are preventable.

Unmanaged high blood pressure and high cholesterol are risk factors that can lead to stroke. Last February, Gilford Hall, 56 of Wheelwright Ky, was napping on the couch before preaching a revival at his church that night, when these risk factors caught up to him.

This was to be night 41 of a revival going on at House of Prayer in Prestonsburg, where Gilford is Assistant Pastor. After waking from his nap, he noticed weakness on his right side. He was also having difficulty speaking and could not control his right leg.

“My mind was still functional, but I couldn’t speak,” recalls Gilford. “I felt like I was having a stroke, but I couldn’t tell anyone.”

His wife, Brenda, called friends to help get him into the van. She also called an ambulance to meet them on the way out of Wheelwright. Gilford was transported to the Pikeville Medical Center Emergency Department.

Primary Stroke Center Medical Director, Naveed Ahmed, MD, diagnosed Gilford with ischemic stroke after the diagnostic test results came back. He prescribed him the tPa shot to stop the stroke.

Afterwards, Gilford was admitted to ICU before being sent to Inpatient Physical Rehabilitation on the 10th floor for 21 days, where he would undergo physical and occupational therapy.

“The rehab staff was really awesome and made a real impact in my recovery,” explained Gilford. “Never once did I sense that they dreaded working with me. It is their calling and it shows in their work.”

PMC Physiatrist Sankar Chirumamilla, MD, oversaw Gilford’s medical care while admitted to the rehab floor.

“Mr. Hall was a very compliant, hardworking individual. With great support from his family and determination, he participated in intense physical and occupational therapy that enabled him to progress from not being able to get out of bed or chair by himself to walking with the help of a walker and a leg brace,” explained Dr. Chirumamilla. “He has continued using techniques he learned in rehab while at home to further improve his function to be independent in all aspects of his daily living.”

Gilford said that Dr. Chirumamilla was an excellent physician, who couldn’t have been any nicer. He went on to say that Dr. Chirumamilla offered to help him in any way and took really good care of him.

The physical and occupational therapy staff were always available to help him.

“Jerry really helped me a whole lot with the physical therapy and getting back on my feet,” said Gilford. “Before I knew it I could walk 100 feet. Brittany worked with me in occupational therapy. They were both great!”

Before long, he was well enough to go home. He even talked them into letting him leave on Friday instead of the following Monday so he could teach Sunday school that weekend. Gilford’s faith throughout the whole ordeal was unshakable. In addition to Brenda, who rarely left his side, his church family was a big source of support. Nearly every day someone from the church came to visit him.

“Over 1,000 people were praying for me,” said Gilford. “With God’s hand guiding the physicians here at PMC, He has brought me back to good health.”

Now, Gilford is fully independent and driving. He exercises at home, walking up to two miles per day and curls weights to maintain strength.

“After going home, every few days, I could see some improvement. I recently stopped at the 10th floor to see everyone when I was at PMC for an appointment,” said Gilford. “I hugged and thanked them all. Everyone was so happy to see how well I am doing now. I continue to get better all the time.”