Four days each week, 73-year-old Doyle Tallmage can be seen at HealthSouth Lakeview Rehabilitation Hospital transporting patients from their rooms to the therapy gym, assisting with patients in the swallow group during speech therapy, lightening the mood of staff members by telling jokes and encouraging patients with his personal story.
In June 2013, Tallmage, an 11-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and a retired electronics engineer, occupied one of the 40 patient rooms at HealthSouth Lakeview for 25 days following a stroke. When he was transferred to the inpatient rehabilitation hospital, he could not walk or talk; but he had the determination to reach his personal goals of speaking clearly and riding his motorcycle again.
Physical, occupational and speech-language therapists worked with him every day on regaining his strength and balance, especially to the right side of his body which was paralyzed from the stroke. One therapist, who was a “motorcycle guy,” worked with him on the functions he would need to ride his motorcycle. Eventually, his speech improved; and he rode out of the hospital on a three-wheeled motorcycle with friends from the local chapter of Rolling Thunder.
After discharge, Tallmage came back to the hospital to visit with patients and reconnect with hospital employees who helped him through his recovery. He didn’t just visit one time, it became part of his routine. He was such a great help at the hospital, it was decided that he should swap his visitor badge for a volunteer badge.
Tallmage inspires patients by telling them, “Anything you want to do, you can do it!” His stroke may have slowed him down temporarily, but hospital staff and patients are able to see what hard work and determination looks like every time he walks in the front door with a large grin on his face.