When Jessica Grady was working towards her pre-medicine degree at the University of Miami in Ohio, her grandfather had a stroke.
With her other family members, she rushed to Georgia to be by his side.
She changed the lives of her grandfather and Grady.
“I watched his neurorehabilitation and stroke recovery,” Grady recalls. “I’ve also seen how his speech pathologist has been able to spend much more time with him than with the doctor.”
She reset her goal: to become a speech pathologist. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree and enrolled at Arizona State University for her Master of Science degree.
She was appointed Speech-Language Therapist at the Translational Neuro-Rehabilitation Center at the renowned Barrow Neurological Institute – which she considered an honor.
“Beginning my career and working at the Barrow Institute of Neurology was truly a career changer. You remember it, it was a competitive and sought-after position in my field.
“I have been able to work with some of the best therapists and neuropsychologists in the industry, and many of my patients have also been cared for by some of the best surgeons in the world.
“We’ve had patients move in from other states and come from other countries for treatment; they’ve moved for months at a time because of Barrow’s reputation.”
Grady, who earned her professional license in Arizona in 1998, has always seen patients outside of her job but decided to leave Barrow last year after nearly 20 years to pursue her own full-time practice.
It’s been a busy year.
“I have seen many patients in the Ahwatoki area, from students of Desert Vista who have had car accidents or have learning disabilities, ADHD or autism, to other members of the community who have had strokes, brain tumors or progressive diseases such as dementia, ” She said.
Grady said she realizes that many people don’t know what speech pathology includes — which she understands conceptually as “the field of speech pathology is very broad.”
“People tend to either specialize in a pediatric category, or specialize more in adolescence and into adulthood. Second, even with adults, some people specialize in voice or dialect for example, and some have other specialties.
“Early on, I was fascinated by the field of neurorehabilitation, and with the brain in general, so I specialize in brain injuries; whether it was traumatic brain injuries – such as those from car accidents and sports – or acquired brain injuries, such as those from tumors or strokes. .
“It really goes the whole gamut. I recently had a patient who had a brain injury from a head golf band.”
She said it was an accident.
“In my clinical practice, I also specialize in acquired brain injuries such as those caused by strokes, aneurysms, and brain tumors, as well as other brain-related disorders such as executive functional autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, and even some progressive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.”
While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, Grady said there are ways to help treat symptoms.
“Dementia in all its forms is progressive. However, if you start treatment early, you can teach some compensation to the patient and their family to help them function, as well as provide cognitive exercises to maintain skills they still have,” she said.
“My clinical practice focuses on evaluations and treatment for adolescents, adults, and the elderly with speech, language, cognition, and neurological problems,” she continued, noting her expertise in neurological rehabilitation and cognitive retraining.
“In addition, I have specialized training in assisting with the process of returning to work or school after a brain injury or brain-related disorder.”
An Ahwatoki family is grateful for her expertise in helping patients recover from a stroke after their prolonged COVID-19 experience.
Paul Petrillo, personal trainer and manager of an aquarium fish shop, had three blood clots in his brain.
For Paul and Lindsey Petrillo, the coronavirus came with a vengeance last November. Although she recovered in a short time, her husband did not.
Lindsay remembers being sick for two weeks with coughing, congestion, body aches, and fever.
“It was days and days of being sick and Paul was just miserable. Nothing seemed to help; nothing made him better,” said Lindsay, a second-grade teacher at Keren de los Cerritos for the past 17 years.
After several visits to the emergency room, urgent care, and close monitoring at home of oxygen levels, he was hospitalized.
“After a short time, his symptoms: headache, eye pain, extreme confusion, difficulty speaking, showed evidence of a bigger problem. Paul had had a stroke. He was lucky to be in the hospital when that happened,” she said.
He was taken by helicopter to St. Joseph Hospital and was urgently taken to surgery. He spent six days in the Barrow ICU and with treatment, he slowly regained movement on his almost paralyzed right side.
This was followed by two weeks at Encompass Reification, where he made great strides on a physical level.
“Paul learned how to swallow, eat, walk and complete basic tasks with half of his body lagging behind and not working properly,” Lindsey explained.
“It was a tedious process, but one he did with a sense of humor and even earned him the Patient of the Month award during his stay.”
He came home on December 23 and enjoyed the holiday with his wife and daughter Carrie, 12. Remaining problems remained from the stroke, including aphasia, a language-related disorder that can affect how speech is formulated, affecting word detection and communication.
Grady began treating it and continues to this day.
“I see Paul to improve word detection, processing speed, multitasking, attention and focus,” Grady said. “He’s a competitive guy and continues to make improvements in aphasia and his overall performance.”
Lindsey described Grady as “clearly intelligent, articulate with professional confidence”.
“The moment you meet Jessica, you immediately feel that everything is going to be OK. I have met Paul on his level and designed a program specific to his needs using his strengths to help him be more successful,”
“My husband is not someone who is used to accepting or needing help and who takes pride in his ability to go about life as independently as possible. However, he has incredible drive and determination, and with the dedicated support Jessica provides, he is amazing even as he has progressed. Jessica reminds you that there is a reason to include The word “therapist” is in her title and it makes you so glad you called her in the first place.”
Helping those who have had brain injuries or problems return to work or school is part of what Grady offers in her clinical practice.
“I have specialized training in helping with the process of returning to work or school after a brain injury or brain-related disorder,” she said.
Grady is a Certified Brain Injury Specialist and Professional Rehabilitation Vendor.
And still fascinated by it
“Brain,” she mused while sitting looking at a brain model in her office. “How wonderful.”
Among her favorite quotes, which she shares with some clients, Kristen Butler:
“The strongest people I’ve met have not had an easier life…They have learned to create strength and happiness out of difficult places.”
“This is not about the brain, but really about rehab and overcoming obstacles. I have a lot of patients who have done that and are still doing it,” said Grady, who has lived in Ahwatoki for nearly 20 years. “My patients inspire me daily.”
In her clinic, Cognitive Solutions, patients range from middle school students to seniors.
Cognitive Solutions’ office is located at 15215 S. 48th St. She can be reached via email at JessicaGrady@Cox.net or by phone at 480-980-4969. Her website is JessicaGrady.org.