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Patient Stories

As a national leader in rehabilitative care, Spaulding Rehabilitation Network helps patients find their strength every day. But it's the words and experiences of our patients that best describe what our services can really do.

Our patient stories provide a look inside the outstanding rehabilitative services available through our network of world-class providers. We invite you to read these compelling and unforgettable stories - and learn how our rehabilitative care has changed people's lives.

  • Patient Story

    Valerie's Stroke Story - Spaulding Rehab

    When Valerie, 42, woke to her alarm on a Wednesday morning in June of 2014, she turned to look at the clock and felt a sudden, sharp pain on both sides of her neck. Thinking perhaps she had just slept wrong, she went about the next several days as normal. Despite the nagging pain, Valerie met with clients and appeared in court for her job as a lawyer. She did yard work at her home in Stoneham, and continued to sing daily in preparation for an upcoming trip to Italy where she was to perform with the Berklee College of Music as part of the Umbria Jazz Clinics. By Sunday, however, Valerie's pain had increased tremendously, she was fatigued and noticed she was moving stiffly during a rehearsal. She woke from a nap to the sobering discovery that she was seeing double and unable to move the left side of her body. After being evaluated at the hospital, Valerie was told she had experienced a brain stem stroke caused by a rare condition called Vertebral Artery Dissection. When she had turned her head to look at the alarm earlier that week, she had torn arteries on the sides of her neck which

  • Patient Story

    Tom's Amputation Story - Spaulding Rehab

    "The work done at Spaulding is extraordinary and the hundreds of patients served here each year are truly lucky to have such a facility available to them." On December 8, 2010, Tom Leonard's family made the wrenching decision to have a surgeon cut off his left leg, just above the knee. A rapid-moving and severe bacterial infection had invaded his leg and was now threatening his vital organs. Removal of the limb was necessary to save his life. "Each day since," Tom says, "has been a gift." After he recovered from the surgery, Tom was transferred to Spaulding North Shore, where he remained for 11 weeks, learning how to walk with a new prosthetic leg. Bedridden for many weeks, the first moment he was able to be up and on his feet was a miracle to him. He has trouble finding the words to describe the care and the new lease on life he received. "It would be difficult for me to even begin to try to describe the wonderful therapeutic care I received in this great facility," Tom observes. "Trying to single out one therapist over another would be like trying to suggest which of your children you love the best. They

  • Patient Story

    Tedy Bruschi's Stroke Story - Spaulding Rehab

    "I was there for Spaulding long before I knew I'd ever need them myself," Tedy says of his rehabilitation at Spaulding. "They are real champions. They made me whole again and got me back to the field." Long before he was ever a patient, Tedy Bruschi had visited patients at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, hailed their remarkable recoveries and signed autographs. But February 15, 2005, was different. Having just won his third Super Bowl and competed in his first Pro Bowl, Tedy Bruschi, the New England Patriots linebacker, developed a blood clot that caused him to suffer a mild stroke. His wife called 911, and Tedy was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital. The team at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital also sprang into action, working with trainers from the Patriots on Tedy's rehabilitation plan. In collaboration with the Patriots' staff, the Spaulding team developed a physical therapy plan for Tedy that required hard work, perseverance and total commitment from Tedy, his doctors and his therapists. His rehabilitation inspired fans who longed for Tedy's return to the defensive squad. But more importantly, it inspired thousands of stroke survivors and rehab patients who facing similar obstacles. Tedy went on to have one of his best seasons ever following

  • Patient Story

    We Are Stronger Together - Spaulding Rehab

    From across the globe to right next door, when people are in need we are there. At the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, we work with people every day to help them find their strength. And often, our mission can take us to unexpected places. It could mean our skilled clinicians are asked to help with international disasters such as the Haiti earthquake or bring a group of Libyan war wounded to our hospital. When also answer the call when tragedy strikes closer to home. Events like when the unthinkable happened in our own city and 32 survivors injured during the Boston Marathon bombing needed our care. As caregivers, advocates and educators, throughout the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, our goal is to do whatever we can to help people get better. Sometimes the world is watching. Sometimes they are private, personal victories. But always, someone's life is changed for the better. Whatever triumphs, setbacks and challenges await, our dedicated team will be there to help however we can. Helping people find their strength is more than a tagline and it's more than what we do. It's who we

  • Patient Story

    Monica's Story - Necrotizing Fasciitis - Spaulding Rehab

    Monica Jorge's life in August 2007 could not have been better. She was engaged to a wonderful man, Tony, and they were about to celebrate the arrival of their second child. On their way to the hospital neither could have imagined how much their lives were about to change. The birth of her daughter via C-section went smoothly, yet she developed a low-grade fever a few hours later followed by a persistent sharp pain in the abdomen. At first, she thought it was related to the C-section, but it quickly it became apparent this was much more. Shortly after giving birth, she was in critical condition and airlifted to Massachusetts General Hospital. Doctors Mass General diagnosed Monica and the news was grim. She had contracted necrotizing fasciitis, commonly known as "flesh-eating bacteria". Drastic action had to be taken to save her. Clinging to life, the new mother slipped into septic shock, meaning time was short. Surgeons acted quickly to stabilize her and isolate the infection. Her uterus, ovaries, gall bladder, and most of her colon were removed in those first few hours. Once stabilized, physicians realized the infection had taken another toll - all four of her limbs would have to be amputated.

  • Patient Story

    Lisa's Inpatient Rehab Story - Spaulding Rehabilitation

    Lisa Mazzola would be the first to tell you she shouldn't be here. On the night of June 8, 2004, a driver going the wrong way on a one-way street clipped the front wheel of her motorcycle at 40 mph. The impact ripped Lisa's helmet from her head. She was thrown to the pavement, tumbling and skidding until coming to rest under the car that hit her. "It's a miracle I'm alive. It's a miracle I can walk and talk," she says. Fortunately, an ambulance was behind Lisa. EMTs found a crumpled woman under the car. Her left arm and shoulder twisted around her body. Her hip was shattered. Her teeth were broken. Unseen, blood was starting to pool in her brain. Lisa Mazzola was dying. A little over a year later, Lisa was walking with only a slight limp and talking excitedly about getting back to work. Her story is one of faith, determination and courage, aided by the skill and patience of the team at the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Cape and Islands - now Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Cape Cod - that treated her over the next 16 months. She woke the morning of July 4, memory restored for the first time

  • Patient Story

    Meredith's Story - Paralysis - Spaulding Rehab

    On May 30, 2015, Meredith awoke from a haze of anesthesia to a new reality. She had undergone eight hours of extensive surgery during which several titanium rods, screws and a steel cage were implanted in her body to realign her spine. It was her 25th birthday. 24 hours earlier, Meredith was an active, independent woman who ran half-marathons, danced in a ballet company and volunteered as an EMT on a rescue squad in Vermont. She was helping friends move into a new apartment when a piano accidentally fell directly on top of her, paralyzing her from the waist down. Finding herself in an unfamiliar role - needing to be rescued, she managed to maintain her composure and figure out what she needed to do to get safely to the hospital. After spending a week in the surgical intensive care and inpatient units of the acute care hospital, Meredith was stable enough to be admitted to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital to begin her journey of recovery. When Meredith first came to Spaulding, she was almost completely dependent on others. She couldn't roll over in bed, sit up, get dressed, stand or shower unassisted. She had minimal feeling in her legs. Meredith worked with many

  • Patient Story

    Jim's Stroke Story - Spaulding Rehab

    Jim and Nancy Graham had already planned and paid for a long-anticipated trip to Hawaii when Jim had a serious stroke. He was just 61 and retirement was not on his radar. "I was fat, dumb, happy and indestructible," he says of his life before the stroke. After was another story. Following treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital, Jim was admitted to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Cape Cod for rehabilitation. Left side paralyzed, he couldn't walk and didn't have use of his left arm or hand. Going home was his first goal, but like many aspects of stroke recovery, that wasn't going to be simple. "Aside from the physical effects of the stroke, my biggest concern was whether or not I would be able to recover emotionally," Jim says. "Everything had changed. In a couple of heartbeats on a Saturday morning, I became dependent on others for everything. That put me in a dark place." Like others whose lives have been upended by stroke, Jim's first days confronting his new reality were filled with doubt. His team of rehabilitation specialists at Spaulding Cape Cod helped him make sense of it all. "My therapists worked on improving my physical condition and gave me the confidence that

  • Patient Story

    Donnie's Leukeimia Treatment Story - Spaulding Rehab

    The staff on 3 South at Spaulding Hospital Cambridge affectionately referred to Donnie Shea as the ‘President of Spaulding.’ Donnie would tell you he started out as the Mayor, then became Governor, and eventually President of Spaulding. He said he earned the honor having been a patient at Spaulding Cambridge for over a year. While most people wouldn’t consider that to be a good thing, Donnie was extremely grateful for the unique and specialized care he received, allowing him to live every day to the fullest. Donnie was diagnosed with leukemia in 1990 and was treated with aggressive chemotherapy and radiation. The treatment was grueling but effective, and Donnie was able to return to work for the airlines and raise his family of 3 children for many years. The treatments he received years ago eventually began to affect his health. “Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease,” Donnie stated. His kidneys began to fail as a result of the radiation treatments. He required two bone marrow transplants, which landed him back in the hospital for an extended period of time. His condition was very critical, requiring him to stay in the ICU at Mass General Hospital. When he started to

  • Patient Story

    Jared's Story - Trauma and Nerve Pain - Spaulding Rehab

    "Officer down!" That's what 46-year old Jared MacDonald called into his police radio at 3:00 am on a frosty February night. En route to rescue a murder investigation on Cape Cod, Officer MacDonald was rushing past a car set on fire by the suspect when a bullet skimmed his spine. Toppled, he lay on the snow directing the other officers. Minutes later, the suspect was apprehended and Jared was airlifted to safety for emergency treatment. At first, Jared lay in his hospital bed at Spaulding, nerve pain flaring in his right foot and leg. The touch of a sheet was unbearable. Our nursing staff provided constant care for his wounds and the shock from the trauma he experienced. The next day, when Jared met Trina Modoono, his physical therapist, he told her he wanted to walk as soon as possible. "Not until you can put a shoe on your foot," Trina said. "That's the first step." Two nights later, he lay awake in bed, easing the sheet over his foot, testing how much pain he could bear. Just three days after that, he put on his shoe. "From that day on," Jared says, "Spaulding's amazing team led me on the path of