Retired Police Officer Stays Passionate After Stroke

Marty Polk, a Cincinnati native grew up very physically active. He went to Lockland High School where he played football and basketball. His college sights were put on hold due to his father being in a car accident, and he wanted to stay home and get a job in order to help his family.

While working one day, Marty heard a radio advertisement about the Cincinnati Police Department looking for new recruits. Although he didn’t think he would get in, he did. “I joined the force because I wanted to better the system. Treating people with respect and integrity means a lot to me,” Marty says.

Marty Faces His Biggest Challenge

Marty was a Cincinnati Police officer for 30 years. He worked in the Parks unit as a plain clothes officer, patrolling illegal activity. Married with two kids, Marty retired from the force in 2011. Six months later, “My life changed forever,” he says. Marty had a stroke on January 18, 2012.

A stroke, also called a “brain attack,” happens when blood flow to a part of the brain stops. Marty suffered from a hemorrhaged stroke that put him in the hospital for over a month. He lost the use of his the entire right side of his body, which required hours of occupational, physical, speech and recreational therapy. 

Related Post: How to Recognize a Stroke

The challenges Marty experienced on the force were in no comparison on to what he was about to go through after having a stroke. The biggest challenge from Marty’s perspective is knowing what he wants to communicate and not being able to get it out the way he wants. Marty’s wife Marsha notes, “Marty had a lot of responsibility when he was in law enforcement; sometimes it’s difficult for him to acknowledge his limitations after having a stroke. When something like this happens, you have to deal with the possibility and likelihood it will happen again,” She says. 

Marty's Next Steps: The Road to Recovery

Over the course of three months, Marty went to the TriHealth Fitness and Health Pavilion for therapy five days a week. This included two hours of physical therapy, two hours of occupational therapy and one hour of speech therapy. “I went from a wheelchair to a walker, to a cane and now I can walk again,” Marty says.

Marty is still a regular at the Pavilion, greeting everyone with a great big smiling face. He is able to drive himself during the day, three to four days a week for a two and half hour workout. When he is not at the Pavilion, Marty enjoys watching movies, Bengal football games, and is looking forward to the start of Red’s baseball season.

Bright Future Ahead

Marty’s biggest triumph throughout his journey is learning how to regain and maintain skills and improve upon them. “The older people at the Pavilion motivate me because I see them challenge themselves and each other.” The same spirit Marty carried applying for the Cincinnati Police Force, is the same passion he has for his recovery, and that is truly triumphant. 


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Last Updated: April 14, 2015