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Patient Stories

As a national leader in rehabilitative care, Spaulding Rehabilitation 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 Sarah: Honoring Mom with a Marathon

    Spring 2022 Sarah Taft decided to run the 126th Boston Marathon on Spaulding’s Race for Rehab team for one main reason: to honor her mother, Terry. After contracting a viral brain infection in the fall of 2019, Terry spent six weeks inpatient at Spaulding Boston. The virus had significantly impaired her motor function, memory and comprehension; however, members of her Spaulding care team were determined to find ways to bring Terry back. While Sarah was never a runner before this year, her mother completed three Boston Marathons before having four kids. Early in Terry’s time at Spaulding, she was struggling to engage with her care team and become active again. Sarah remembers one day when Terry’s physical therapist, Gauge, persisted in chatting with an unresponsive Terry. Gauge commented on Terry’s sneakers, a blue pair of Brooks that she had been wearing for years, and how he heard they were a great brand to run in. All of a sudden, Terry perked up and said, “Well, I ran three marathons, did you know that?” Gauge was then able to use this interest to keep motivating Terry through her recovery. “My mom always told me that you have to stop focusing on the little stuff and

  • 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 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 Lizzy: A Journey of Rehabilitation and Advocacy

    Summer 2023 In the summer of 2019, Lizzy Ragan fell while rock climbing in New Hampshire and experienced a severe spinal cord injury. After being rushed to a nearby intensive care unit, she was transferred to Spaulding Charlestown to begin her rehabilitation journey, with the ultimate goal of returning to her career and passions. It was a difficult undertaking, but Lizzy approached it with determination and focus — traits that have helped her get to where she is today. Coming from an athletic background, Lizzy was motivated to conquer her rehab routine and get back to the activities she loved. At Spaulding, her physical therapists were behind her the entire way, developing a routine that supported those goals. “Melissa motivated me to lean into my rehab routine, but not to limit myself,” said Lizzy of one particularly supportive care team member. “She encouraged me to focus on getting back to living the life I desired.” It was this mentality that made the strongest impression on Lizzy. When she began her rehabilitation, Lizzy’s goal was to return to work after a year of inpatient and outpatient therapy — but by early 2020 she was already back working at a local hospital during the height

  • 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 Lauren and Tracey: From Rehab to the Finish Line

    Spring 2023 Watch this special story of a mother and daughter who both underwent outpatient rehabilitation therapy with Spaulding, and recently achieved an incredible feat — running the Boston Marathon on Spaulding's Race for Rehab Team. Their journey is a testament to the power of healing and perseverance. Join us in celebrating their

  • Patient Story

    Meet Ethan | A Spaulding Story of Strength

    Para leer esta historia en español, visite nuestra página en el Internet. Who was by your side when you achieved a major life goal? For Ethan Wang, it will be a community of family, friends, and caregivers cheering for him (virtually) as he walks at his Boston University graduation this year. It’s a significant milestone for Ethan, who sustained a spinal cord injury while studying abroad—paralyzing him from the neck down and derailing his junior year of college. In Bali in March 2019, Ethan was critically injured while swimming in the ocean. He needed immediate life-saving surgery, followed by a medical evacuation and more surgeries in Singapore, before he could return home to Massachusetts. Then came the long journey of rehabilitation. Our donor community has been with Ethan on this journey, too. Gifts to Spaulding provide resources and support to help patients like Ethan achieve their goals. “Our family’s main source of strength is the amazing support we have received,” says Ethan’s father, Willis. “There is so much strength in community, and that is what has helped us.” Paralysis caused by a spinal cord injury (SCI) is an intense, life-changing event. Ethan spent 148 days as an inpatient at Spaulding Boston, achieving a new physical milestone

  • Patient Story

    Meet Clifton: Surviving Stroke: There and Back Again

    Spring 2023 Life often comes full circle. Clifton Singletary’s Spaulding Rehabilitation story began while he was serving our patients. When he returned to Spaulding as a patient himself, his desire to give back grew stronger. Clifton’s first visit to Spaulding was in July 2013 to escort the Boston Pops as they performed for survivors of the Boston Marathon bombings. Clifton, a decorated Boston police officer, was invited to Spaulding in recognition of his service that day, when he helped load the wounded into ambulances. Clifton never imagined that he would return to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston almost 10 years later, following a hemorrhagic stroke. Unable to walk on his own and struggling with post-stroke coordination, sensory, and cognitive symptoms, he found that his Spaulding team was determined to get him back on his feet. “This is beyond professionalism,” he says. “There’s a level of dedication the people have here that is beyond comprehension.” Spaulding’s personalized approach to care has Clifton not only walking again but inspired to return to the hospital to help others. Part of his efforts include participating in a research study testing a virtual reality–linked treadmill to improve gait performance for stroke survivors like himself. One in four people will have a

  • Patient Story

    Amit: Enjoying an Active Life Again

    Leer esta historia en español. Fall 2022 For Amit, his Spaulding story began when the young father started experiencing debilitating chronic pain. Growing up as a competitive tennis player in India, Amit was always active. But in his 30s, all that changed. “Putting on socks was a chore,” he says. “A 30-minute car ride was unbearable.” He explored a variety of treatment options, eager to avoid surgery. Nothing provided lasting relief. Amit, back on the tennis court. Then Amit met Spaulding’s Dr. Joanne Borg Stein, and he tried a specialized regenerative treatment that she and other Spaulding researchers had refined. Platelet-rich plasma therapy accelerates the healing of injured tissue through injections of patients’ own healthy blood platelets. “Within the first week of treatment, my pain was significantly better,” says Amit. “Many of the things I wasn’t able to do suddenly became possible.” Like so many patients, Amit turned to Spaulding for our innovative practices and broad range of treatments — many made possible by generous donations. Donations help Spaulding make investments to better serve our patients—investments in the newest rehabilitation equipment and technology, continuing education for clinicians, and groundbreaking research to advance rehabilitation medicine. Unrestricted gifts to the Spaulding Outpatient Centers have an immediate impact. Amit is back to playing

  • Patient Story

    Together We Celebrate Spaulding Charlestown, 10 Years Later

    Spring 2023 From fragile first encounters to final goals achieved, rehabilitation is a team sport—and together we celebrate every milestone. This year our team marks a special milestone at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, which moved from our former neighborhood in Boston and opened at our new location in Charlestown 10 years ago in 2013. Since then, Spaulding has helped thousands of patients find their strength through their toughest moments. From recovering after the Boston Marathon bombings to a global pandemic that radically changed medicine as we know it, our commitment to our patients, their families, and the communities we serve has been unwavering. Together we celebrate: 10 years of compassionate clinical care and incredible recoveries 10 years of groundbreaking research and innovative treatments 10 years of disability rights advocacy through programs, partnerships, and universal design 10 years of training and educating future leaders in rehabilitation medicine Across Spaulding Rehabilitation, our goal is to help people get one day better, every day. And whatever triumphs and challenges await, our dedicated team will be there, with your support. Generous donors will help improve the quality of life for each person who comes through Spaulding’s doors in the decade ahead. Thank you for your