NORTH HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Aleta Staton is working on strengthening, balance, and endurance.

“When I’m pushing weight it’s making me use those legs,” said the 64-year-old, as she works hard at a Gaylord Specialty Healthcare physical therapy facility in North Haven.

She’s fighting back after a scary stretch. Staton has lived three decades with congestive heart failure, an underlying health condition.

“I contracted COVID about 3 weeks before it had a name,” she explained. “My heart started doing strange things. It would beat fast, it would beat slow, it was so erratic.”

It seems COVID caused scarring in cardiac tissue. This started many trips to the hospital.
During one stay, another problem arose.

“One day, maybe four days in, I got up and could not walk,” said Staton.

Suddenly, she was falling, sometimes three times a week, without knowing why.

This busy mom, theater teacher, and former actress started to rely on a cane.

After a particularly bad fall in the spring of 2022, when she hit her head on an iron pipe, she had to get a CAT scan.

“They saw evidence of an older stroke,” said Staton, noting that it had gone undiagnosed for more than a year. But knowledge is power and Staton made a plan to see physical therapist Jadean Hoff twice a week for help.

“She’s made tremendous progress in the last 3 months,” said Hoff. “She’s finally walking without a cane. She can sustain walking for 5-10 minutes at a time.”

“One day, Jadean said, ‘Don’t bring [the cane] anymore,’ and I was so happy,” said Staton with a smile.

Her message? Advocate for yourself when you know something is wrong.

“I see everyone working hard and that’s really the only way to get better, to put in the work,” she noted.

Staton’s next goal is salsa dancing! She hopes to be tackling the dance floor in the next few months.

Click here to learn more about the outpatient physical therapy facility.