Man with his family on the left, and in a hospital bed on the right

News | 19 days ago

CrossFit Athlete, 40, Survives Stroke and Makes Full Recovery Thanks to Swift Medical Care

Morgan Corbin, 40, is an avid CrossFit athlete and marathon ruck event runner. When he started having trouble speaking while he was at the gym one day, it never occurred to him that he was having a stroke. Here’s what he did to prevent long-term symptoms from the stroke.
Morgan's Stroke Story

In late February 2024, Morgan Corbin’s day began like many others: at the gym. Morgan works out at his local CrossFit gym six days per week doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with weights. He also runs in marathon ruck events, carrying a weighted backpack while running long distances.

The 40-year-old father had just finished his warm-up that morning and went to pick up a barbell with his left hand when he realized he couldn’t hold the weight with his right hand.

“I stood there for a few minutes trying to figure it out,” he says. “I saw people were waiting, so I walked away and the symptom passed.”

But just minutes later, Morgan began to have trouble hearing and speaking. He went to his car and called his wife, who couldn’t understand him. Not realizing he was having a stroke, Morgan drove one mile to his house.

His wife, a dietitian at Atrium Health, called their neighbor Devin, a neurosciences critical care registered nurse, who evaluated him and then drove Morgan to the emergency department.

Morgan’s swift stroke treatment at Atrium Health

“Once we got to the emergency department, everyone acted fast,” says Morgan. “I couldn’t communicate or hear what they were saying, so Devin told them everything he knew.”

The medical team ran tests and scans, confirming Morgan was having a stroke.

“Morgan presented at the emergency department with difficulty speaking,” says Dr. Thomas Stout, a neurologist at Atrium Health. “We immediately activated the Code Stroke team and ran CT studies to examine his brain and blood vessels.”

Less than an hour later, Morgan received a medication through his IV called Tenecteplase (TNK), a clot-busting stroke treatment.

“The good news is Morgan recognized his symptoms quickly and went to the hospital in a timely fashion, enabling us to give him therapy,” says Dr. Stout, “Getting medical intervention so quickly minimized the longer-term risk to his brain.”

“Getting the shot within an hour of my symptoms starting is why I don’t have any real residual effects of the stroke,” says Morgan. “Because of the quick action of my wife, Devin, the ER team and Dr. Stout, I got the treatment I needed quickly and that saved me a lot of outpatient treatment.”

He was discharged from the hospital after three days with no major stroke side effects.

What caused Morgan’s stroke?

While Morgan exercises regularly, manages stress well, has no family history of stroke and has a healthy diet, he has a history of high cholesterol, which he’s now managing with prescription medications.

“No matter how good my diet or exercise routine, I have a predisposition for high cholesterol,” he says.

Despite many medical tests, it’s still unclear what caused Morgan’s stroke.

“The sad reality is a stroke can happen at any age, from the youngest to the oldest among us, and any age in between,” says Stout. “To reduce your risk of stroke, follow a good diet, stay hydrated, exercise regularly and make sure you have a primary care provider to monitor risk factors like high cholesterol and high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a silent killer — there are often no warning signs of the damage high blood pressure is doing to your body until you experience that stroke or heart attack. Everyone should know their average resting blood pressure. And, if it's high, should be monitoring and managing it through their health care providers.”

Morgan is currently wearing a heart rate monitor to determine if he has atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heartbeat that’s a common cause of stroke.

Morgan’s full recovery after stroke

One of the first questions Morgan asked Stout in the hospital was, “When can I get back to normal?”

Stout advised Morgan to take it slow, but said he could ride a stationary bike staying in a zone 2 heart rate for the first week after he was discharged from the hospital. A week after his stroke, Morgan was back in the gym, lifting a bit lighter than usual. He also went back to work right away.

While his physical recovery has been relatively smooth sailing, Morgan admits having a stroke at such a young age has been a lot to process.

“I have a therapist I talk to,” he says. “They have helped me come to terms with what happened. I could have died or been left with severe limitations. It was really a unicorn scenario what happened to me and I feel lucky. It’s the cumulative action of a lot of people — my wife, Devin, Dr. Stout, Dr. [Christopher Leon] Guerrero. All of those people have been phenomenal.”

Stout says Morgan has an excellent prognosis.

“For strokes these days, medical care is very good,” says Stout. “It takes a large medical community to appropriately treat strokes, including the emergency department, CT and MRI technicians, and neurologists. Fortunately, we have all of these capabilities here at Atrium Health. We also have stroke nurse navigators and a stroke clinic to follow patients after they are discharged from the hospital.”

Morgan’s advice to others: “Remember the BE FAST acronym and don’t hesitate to seek care if something doesn’t feel right.” Call 911 if you notice any of the symptoms below.

BE FAST stands for:

  • Balance: Sudden issues with coordination or balance.
  • Eyes: Vision loss in one or both eyes, blurriness, or double vision.
  • Face: Facial numbness or drooping on one side.
  • Arms: Weakness or numbness in one arm or one side of the body.
  • Speech: Unable to speak, difficult to understand or slurring words.
  • Time: If you notice any of these symptoms, call 911 right away.

Learn more about stroke treatment at Atrium

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