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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

    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

    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

    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 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

    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

    Conozca a Lola

    Read this story in English. Otoño 2021 Era la primera nevada de la temporada y Lola Remy estaba cómoda en casa bebiendo un chocolate caliente haitiano casero y con una lista de compras para hacer en la internet. Al final del día, ella, una abogada e instructora de acondicionamiento físico de 40 años estaría en el hospital sufriendo convulsiones por un derrame cerebral. Lola en terapia usando una máquina Lokomat. Después de seis convulsiones, Lola se despertó con un tubo de alimentación y un casco, le extrajeron una parte del cráneo durante una cirugía cerebral de emergencia. Necesitaría volver a aprender a tragar, hablar y caminar. Su primera prueba se produjo cuando salió de los cuidados intensivos para el Spaulding en Cambridge y se le pidieron que se sentara durante 20 minutos, lo que la fanática del acondicionamiento físico llamó de "lo más difícil que ya paso en su vida ". Lola hizo un excelente progreso en Cambridge y continuó mejorando al ser transferida a Spaulding Boston. Cuando finalmente llegó su fecha de alta, estaba emocionada pero aprensiva. El personal proporcionó sesiones virtuales con su familia para ayudar a todos a prepararse para el regreso de Lola a casa. “El personal de Spaulding es increíble”, dijo Lola.

  • Patient Story

    Meet Joe | A Spaulding Story of Strength

    As an aviator for the US Coast Guard, Joe Moncalieri, 32, the father of two young children, was doing what he loved most in the spring of 2016: riding his motorcycle along the rural roads straddling North Carolina’s strawberry fields. The driver of a passing car swiftly altered the trajectory of Joe’s ride with an un-signaled U-turn. Catapulted 30 feet into the air, Joe dropped to the ground—his sternum shattered, spleen ruptured, bowels torn, and all of his ribs and two vertebrae in his spine broken.  Following emergency surgery and eight weeks in a regional hospital's ICU, the Coast Guard gave Joe’s wife, a nurse, her choice of facility for Joe’s rehabilitation anywhere in the US. Well aware of Spaulding’s world-class reputation, she made her decision instantly.  “Spaulding is where I learned to start my life in a wheelchair,” Joe says. “It’s also where I came to understand that my life did not need to be limited by my wheelchair.”  Following Joe’s inpatient treatment, he participated in a in research study on the FES rowing machine in Spaulding’s ExPD program. As a lifelong exerciser, Joe was thrilled to be able, again, to work out hard enough to elevate and sustain a vigorous, aerobic

  • 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 Elson

    Elson Fortes learned a great deal about himself during his rehabilitation process. A soft-spoken former operating room attendant and graphic designer, Elson’s whole world changed on Labor Day 2016 when he was shot in the back—a random act of violence that happened after he drove a friend home from a party. Elson underwent emergency, life-saving surgery. When he woke up, he was paralyzed from the waist down. “My injury helped clarify what’s important,” says Elson. “I felt like I was losing everything I knew in my life because of it. That made me want to create a future where I controlled my own destiny.” 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. At Spaulding Hospital Cambridge, we help people get their lives back from even the most complex and acute medical problems—from spinal cord injuries to COVID-19. And we do it with support from donors, whose generous gifts help get our patients find their strength and rebuild their lives. One day, peer mentor Dave Estrada stopped by Elson’s room in Spaulding Hospital Cambridge. Dave has a spinal cord injury himself, and helps lead the Exercise for