Fall 2023 | Oct 19, 2023
After a long battle with drugs and depression, Jake Haendel received a serious diagnosis: He had a terminal central nervous system disorder. His condition degenerated quickly, and he became “locked in” — aware of his surroundings, but unable to move or communicate.
When Jake’s doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital noticed signs of awareness, he called in a Spaulding Rehabilitation speech-language pathologist to teach Jake nonverbal communication using blinking and a letterboard. So when his clinical team discussed Jake’s readiness for rehabilitation care at Spaulding, Jake was able to spell, “I can do it.”
“When you lose your speech or language ability and then it comes back — even in a nonverbal form — it is very powerful,” says Jake, who is now able to speak with his voice. “It’s a special thing when you can communicate with someone, and it creates a deep bond.” He feels this bond with his Spaulding therapy team, who he credits with giving him the foundation for his recovery.
When he progressed enough to work on walking, Jake received special donor-provided splints from Spaulding’s Brace Clinic. Jake paid it forward by donating them back to be refurbished and given to another patient in need.
Today Jake is determined to help others with disabilities through Ahoi, a mobile application for accessible city navigation that he is developing with two co-founders. And he continues to progress in his recovery, participating in Spaulding’s adaptive skiing, kayaking, and biking programs. “I am a happier, more grateful human being now,” says Jake. “My care team has given me life, and communication, and the ability to do more for others. I have purpose now.”
Spaulding patients are compelled to help others — by raising awareness, by raising funds, by participating in research, and by showing up for fellow patients going through similar situations. It is this community that makes Spaulding strong.
Imagine the Possibilities
At a time when scientific advancements can help make the impossible possible, an investment in rehabilitation medicine has never been more necessary — or more promising.
Your gift to Spaulding can make a real difference... starting now.