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Returning to work after a stroke

A life changing event

Today Len Ramirez, a production support coordinator, looks forward to coming to work at Stryker’s Flower Mound, TX office— something that he previously wasn’t sure would be possible.


That’s because in 2007, Len’s life changed—almost in an instant. It was a sunny summer afternoon, and he was on his way back to work from lunch, riding his recently purchased 2007 Suzuki M109R motorcycle, when a car suddenly turned in front of him.


Len collided with the side of the car shattering his left wrist, which at the time seemed the worst of his injuries.


“I didn’t even realize my wrist was fractured until I got to the hospital,” Len says, “because I had on gloves and a helmet and wasn’t feeling any pain.”


Len had minor surgery on his wrist and was sent home the next day. But that’s when things took a turn for the worse.A few days later, Len had a massive stroke. A congenital defect in his heart had enabled a sliver of bone from the accident to form a blood clot, which inevitably traveled to his brain. “When my symptoms started, I didn’t know I was having a stroke,” Len says. “I didn’t have any signs of a stroke other than a severe headache.”


Lucky for Len, his mother and brother were in the house when he unexpectedly lost consciousness. They revived him and got him to the emergency room as quickly as possible. Because of his recent wrist surgery, Len couldn’t receive clot-busting medication, and clot removal was risky because his brain was swollen. The best short-term solution was to wait. One doctor confided to Len’s mother that he would have only a 50 percent chance of survival.


Turning the corner


Len did survive his experience that day—though his initial recovery would take months. And the stroke left a trail of after-effects in its wake. Now he experiences aphasia, a disorder that can impair all aspects of communication. He has weakness on his right side that causes his shoulder to dislocate from its socket and a condition called foot drop that affects the way he walks.


After the stroke Len had to re-learn to swallow, walk, speak and learn the alphabet—he even became left handed. His disabilities kept him out of work for nearly a decade. But in 2016, working through a temporary-placement agency, Len was able to find a new home at Stryker.


“Stryker and Kelly Services helped me find a role after my massive stroke in 2007,” Len says. “Their confidence in me was reassuring, and it gave me the courage to go back to work.”


Now Len is a production support coordinator at our Communications business near Dallas, Texas. He works on orders in the manufacturing line for our Teletom equipment management system, and the work he does helps to ensure quality and eliminate lengthy and unnecessary rework in the manufacturing process.


What it's like to work with Len


Len describes himself as a self-starter and a dependable contributor, committed to excellence. He believes that honesty and integrity are essential to personal relationships and to our success as a company. His physical disabilities may change the way he works, but those differences don’t define him as a person or keep him from reaching his goals.


A positive outlook


Today, things are looking up for Len. He takes prescription medications to manage seizures and wears a medical device that uses electrical stimulation to reduce his risk of falling because of the weakness on his right side.


“I have come a long way since my stroke,” he says, “and I’m glad I am where I am now. I look forward to coming to work every day. Stryker cares about its employees. The Flower Mound office has a beautiful building and great colleagues and leaders. I love Stryker and what Stryker stands for.”

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