Meet Martha and the “Spaulding Sisters”
The self-titled “Spaulding Sisters” made the most of 2020. The group of women met at Spaulding Boston over the past several years, bonding over their shared love of aquatic therapy. When the COVID-19 pandemic closed our community water fitness classes, the Sisters came together to support each other and their health in a whole new way.
The ladies are avid participants in the Spaulding Adaptive Sports Program’s virtual classes (launched in response to the pandemic), “meeting” several times a week to exercise virtually together from the safety of their homes. They are among the more than 1,000 participants who have benefitted from virtual classes like yoga, boxing, exercise for stroke and TBI, dance with Parkinson’s, and more. In 2020, donations were used to pivot Spaulding adaptive sports programming to be entirely virtual—supporting the health and wellness of an even broader community, when so many were isolated and unable to participate in their regular fitness and community activities.
Martha Starr, “Spaulding Sister,” patient, and volunteer, says the virtual programs have been a true lifesaver in 2020. And so have the Sisters’ weekly Friday Zoom calls to check in on one another. They share resources and coping strategies, discuss their conditions, and laugh together.
Martha first encountered Spaulding for outpatient rehabilitation after a knee replacement, and continued to work with physical therapists to navigate subsequent surgeries, arthritis, and chronic back and leg pain. She went through eight weeks of intensive therapies in Spaulding’s Functional Restoration Program at our outpatient center in Medford, giving her “an entirely unique and different way of dealing with my aches and pains” through physical therapy, body mechanics strategies, cognitive behavioral therapy, and occupational therapy interventions and adaptations. The Spaulding community water fitness classes introduced her to a supportive group of local Charlestown, MA, women also managing their own recoveries. Little did any of them know how much they would need each other in a year like 2020.
Martha recently made a gift to Spaulding in honor of our care teams and in appreciation for the ways Spaulding has adapted in 2020. She says that she and the other “Spaulding Sisters” are “so grateful, loyal, and engaged with Spaulding because they have changed our bodies, our thinking, and our hearts due to their collective effort with us. They have given us a community for rejuvenation and socialization,” she says. “Every single professional we have worked with has been highly professional, respectful, and most of all effective in addressing our multitude of conditions.”
She and the rest of the “Spaulding Sisters” continue to meet in 2021, and find strength in their shared community.
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