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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.

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  • Patient Story

    Meet Tim: From Stroke Survivor to Marathon Runner

    Winter 2022 In October 2019, Tim Rafferty entered the gym, like he did most days. An active lifestyle was core to who he was — he loved running, snowboarding, bike riding and CrossFit. But that day at the gym, his life would change forever. Tim experienced a hemorrhagic stroke that resulted in paralysis of his left side. He was rushed to acute care, where the prognosis was grim. He was told it was unlikely he’d ever regain movement in his left side. It was a heartbreaking time for the 36-year-old and his family. But then Tim was admitted to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, where he met Dan, Elise and Pauline – three people he would spend the next year of his life with. People who would restore Tim’s hope and help him achieve previously unimaginable goals. “They were with me every step of the way,” Tim says. “Seeing other patients working so hard to achieve their goals, and seeing the clinicians matching that effort, made me inspired and determined in my own recovery.” After his time as an inpatient at Spaulding, Tim was walking very cautiously and slowly, with a cane for support. He told Dan about his goal to return to his active lifestyle, listing his favorite

  • 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

    Meet Robert Lewis, Jr. | A Spaulding Story of Strength

    COVID-19 survivor and Spaulding patient Robert Lewis, Jr. shares his journey: from diagnosis with the novel coronavirus through his rehabilitation at Spaulding Hospital Cambridge—and what it means to him to be back at work at the community outreach organization he founded in Boston. My COVID-19 Recovery—As Told by Robert Lewis, Jr. I’m not sure how I expected to feel when I turned 60 years old last spring, but I didn’t anticipate a trip to the emergency department. I certainly didn’t expect to be sedated, intubated, and wake up 12 days later. But on March 22—my 60th birthday— that’s what happened. It was the beginning of my COVID-19 journey. It was an intense and frightening time. When I was moved to Spaulding Hospital Cambridge for rehabilitation after three weeks of acute care, I had to relearn…everything: how to breathe without an oxygen tank; how to walk; how to touch my nose and tie my sneakers. I had to get my strength back. What struck me about Spaulding was the incredible treatment that I—and my family—received from everyone there, from the moment I arrived until I walked out just one week later. There’s a culture of love and compassion and excellence that radiates from every person. Trust

  • Patient Story

    Meet Pierce

    Para leer esta historia en español, visite nuestra página en el Internet. Who was by your side when you achieved a major goal? For Pierce Scroggins, it was his Spaulding physical therapist Eric, who ran with Pierce as he completed a 5K race in his hometown of Pembroke, MA. It was an important milestone for 25-year-old Pierce, who had lost all ability to move, speak, or eat just two years before. Our donor community was with Pierce, too. Gifts to Spaulding provides resources and support to help patients like Pierce achieve their goals. In 2018, just after Pierce graduated college with a mechanical engineering degree, a severe headache uncovered an extremely rare, cancerous tumor at his brain stem. He spent the next eight months in hospitals, including Spaulding Cambridge and Boston, undergoing multiple brain surgeries and chemotherapy. Pierce was determined to get better. He relearned to walk. He went home. And then the cancer came back. Suddenly, Pierce had a new goal: get strong enough to receive a life-saving bone marrow transplant and subsequent proton radiation. He achieved that critical milestone with the help of his Spaulding outpatient therapy team and then began the work to get back to his pre-cancer activities. “In addition to running a

  • Patient Story

    Meet Morgan

    Morgan Stickney says this thought got her through her hardest days. The 22-year-old began swimming competitively at a young age, and by 15 was ranked top 20 in the country. But one day, Morgan’s left foot started hurting during practice—setting in motion years of specialist visits, debilitating pain, and ultimately a diagnosis of a rare genetic condition and a below-knee amputation of her left leg. Undeterred, she got back in the pool, moving to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs with dreams of the Paralympics. Then her right foot fractured. Morgan turned to Spaulding to get back to the activities and life she loves—and thanks to her care team and programs supported by donors, she has. She became the first double Ewing amputee in 2019—an innovative procedure that reconnects muscles and nerves, allowing the residual leg to interact with leading-edge prosthetics. A self-described “stubborn and competitive person,” Morgan rehabbed at Spaulding after each procedure, learning how to walk and do everyday tasks on her new prosthetic limbs. Spaulding’s mission includes a commitment to improving quality of life. We do that through direct patient care, teaching and research, advocacy efforts, and innovative programming. We help people get their lives back from a wide spectrum

  • 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

    Meet Larry

    Leer esta historia en español. Fall 2021 Life can change in an instant, usually when you least expect it. Larry Dicara was taking his daily, socially distanced walk with a dear friend when he was struck by an SUV traveling 60 miles per hour. The driver had suffered a heart attack and run off the road onto the sidewalk. Larry was rushed to acute care, having sustained major trauma including brain injury, laceration of his spleen and liver, and fractures in his arm, foot, pelvis, and spine. His doctors didn’t expect him to ever walk again. That’s where Spaulding came in. Larry spent more than four months rehabilitating at multiple Spaulding locations during the COVID-19 pandemic—and generous donor support helped keep him and his care team safe. Donations allowed us to purchase additional therapy equipment to set up temporary gyms on each unit at Spaulding Brighton, enabling clinicians to treat patients like Larry closer to their rooms to reduce any potential virus transmission. After weeks of intensive therapies and non-weight-bearing exercises, Larry finally got the green light to try full weight-bearing walking on his left foot. Larry’s occupational therapist, Steph, said, “Let’s see what you can do!” With his left hand on the bed rail, Larry took

  • Patient Story

    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

  • Patient Story

    Meet Lili

    Para leer esta historia en español, visite nuestra página en el Internet. Who gives you the strength to achieve your goals? Lili Davis, nurse manager of the first floor unit at Spaulding Nursing and Therapy Center Brighton, takes great pride in helping her team and their patients achieve their goals. “Seeing the transformation that our patients go through here, seeing them be able to walk again or even just smile again, that gives me strength,” says Lili. We’ve all needed to draw upon strength this past year, including Lili. She helped establish Spaulding Brighton’s dedicated COVID area on her unit—inspiring her nursing staff to volunteer for shifts in the area, even when unknowns about the virus were causing fear and uncertainty. Lili was proud of her team’s efforts and how they came together to do this important work, all with a commitment to safety, dignity, and innovative care delivery. And then she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Suddenly, Lili had a new challenge—how to inspire and lead a nursing staff treating the most vulnerable population during a pandemic, while undergoing cancer treatment herself. With strength and determination, supportive leaders, and a temporary remote work arrangement, Lili and her team kept up their high performance. Lili

  • Patient Story

    Meet Kathy: From Stroke to Strength

    Kathy with her nurse assistant (CNA) Rolando. Fall 2022 After Kathy Reynolds suffered a debilitating stroke while readying a family rental home in Nantucket, Massachusetts, she didn’t think she’d ever walk again. She turned to Spaulding for world-class treatment and support, and started working with a talented team of caregivers—including her physical therapist, Caitlin, and occupational therapist, Jeff, with whom she developed a special bond. Together, with strength and determination, they navigated Kathy’s first post-stroke steps—and she cried with relief and hope. “I received incredible care from Spaulding nursing staff and therapists,” says Kathy. “They focused on teaching and giving me a strong base from which to work, which has helped me progress to where I am today.” Kathy during recent driving practice. Kathy with her daughter on Nantucket. Now back at home in New Jersey, Kathy takes daily walks, continues to work hard at PT and OT, and enjoys weekly yoga classes. She recently drove for the first time in more than two years and is preparing for an upcoming driving test, which she calls, “a big victory.” She’s also back on her beloved Nantucket, swimming in the ocean again for the first time since 2019. Kathy stays in touch with Caitlin and Jeff, and she was excited