When Mo Dunne woke up the morning of Sept. 29, 2006, she couldn’t move. “I thought I’d pulled a muscle in a workout class the night before.”

She managed to make her way to the shower, but then lost her balance and fell. She called a friend, who noticed right away that Dunne was slurring her words. “My friend said, ‘Mo, something is not right. You’re slurring your words — you have to go to the hospital.’ ”

By the time Dunne arrived at The Christ Hospital, approximately five hours had passed since she’d had a stroke. The Mount Lookout woman was completely paralyzed on her right side.

“I ignored all the symptoms,” she recalls. “And I had no warning signs.” The idea that a youthful executive — Dunne is senior vice president for commercial real estate at National City Bank — could be having a stroke never crossed her mind. “I’m too young to have a stroke, for God’s sake,” she thought.

Doctors told Dunne — who was treated successfully for breast cancer in 2003 — that her stroke was likely caused by a drug prescribed to cancer patients in remission. She was unaware of that possible side effect.

Dunne also was unaware that she was about to discover the wonders of The Drake Center.

Drake, located in Hartwell, is a 314-bed hospital specializing in acute care to patients who need longer recovery from a broad spectrum of physical and neurological injuries or conditions. Along with its medical care, and inpatient and outpatient rehabilitative services and therapies, Drake staff perform cutting-edge research in advanced facilities. A member of the Health Alliance, the hospital was subsidized for years through a county tax levy, but now has turned annual budget deficits into a surplus, and will not seek a levy renewal next year.

After an extended hospital stay and two months of home therapy, Dunne went to Drake for three months of occupational and physical work, followed by water therapy for another two months.

“The facilities — oh my gosh — they’re top notch,” Dunne enthuses.

Dunne regained her speech, her ability to write with her right hand and some of her mobility. She also enrolled in a research study that examines how the brain builds new pathways. “Here it is, 21 months later, and I’ve pretty much made a full recovery,” she says.

In July, Drake opened a Stroke Recovery Center — one of the first of its kind in the country. Dr. Brett Kissela, a University of Cincinnati neurologist, co-directs the new center with Dr. Mark Goddard. “My experience is that patients with strokes tend to fall through the cracks,” Kissela says. “The aim of the new center is to help drive recovery in that spot where many patients are still told they’re done.”