NexStride User Stories: Sandra Stark

Dancing away to life’s beat

The afternoon routine is something that Sandy Stark always looks forward to. First she heads into the living room. Then she turns on the music – rockabilly – her favorite. She turns it up loud. No, Louder. And then… she dances, just like she did when she was a girl. Thirty minutes of blissful swinging and stepping later, she turns the music down and goes back to her day. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

But it wasn’t always like that. Just a few short years ago, Sandy wasn’t walking at all. She suffered from freezing of gait – one of the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease in which your feet feel like they’re glued to the floor, unable to take the next step. It had become so troublesome that the thought of doing daily tasks – like going to the grocery store, or grabbing a glass of water – felt like too big of a challenge for her alone. The thought of dancing was that of a far-away, fairytale dream.

The mobility issues that came along with her Parkinson’s diagnosis were especially difficult for Sandy to get used to. She wasn’t used to sitting around. She grew up in the wooded landscape of northern Maine – by the Canadian border – where as a child, the schools closed down during potato harvesting season so that even the kids could help pick. She had nine siblings – and like most Maine kids – loved playing outside. The family didn’t have a car, and didn’t need one, they could walk into town for just about everything they needed.

Sandra Stark

As a young woman, Sandy kept up her busy, always-on-the-move lifestyle. She lived in a number of states – Maine, Connecticut, and Tennessee – working a number of different jobs. She helped to raise seven kids – one of whom won the world arm-wrestling championship. She enjoyed playing golf and taking long walks with her family.

Sandy Stark

But shortly after moving to Tennessee, Sandy noticed something. Her balance felt off, and one day, she fell. It shocked her. She didn’t feel it coming, and she’d had little indication that she was about to fall. One second she was standing. The next she was on the ground.

After that fall, Sandy started to have more trouble walking. Soon, she began looking for help. After puzzling a number of doctors, she visited Vanderbilt Medical Center, where she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. As she learned more about it, and the symptoms it carries, her mobility problems began to make sense. But that didn’t make them much easier to deal with.

Always one to keep busy, Sandy’s life began to slow down. Walking became more and more difficult, until eventually, it became too much.

Still, Sandy wasn’t ready to give up her mobility. She began searching for help. Together with her husband, Sandy took to the internet to find something that could help get her back on her feet.

They came across NexStride – and began watching videos of people just like Sandy who were using the device to regain their mobility. Eager to get back on her feet, she spoke with her doctors, and decided to give NexStride a try.

After a bit of time using the device, Sandy began to feel more comfortable walking on her own. She became less worried about freezing, falling, and the things she couldn’t do, and became more focused on what she could do with a little help from the device.

“I got my confidence back,” said Sandy. She adds that NexStride has given her “another way to live” – and she isn’t kidding. Sandy continues to sharpen her edges, and even takes forensics classes at Ashcroft College. She plans on traveling soon. And of course, every day, at that special time when the afternoon sun is peering through the window, she turns on her rockabilly, nice and loud, and begins to dance.

Sandy Stark with her NexStride

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