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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 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 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

    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

  • 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 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

    Meet Sandy: A Gift of Gratitude

    Spring 2024 When Sandy Maisel's legs went numb last summer, he feared he would never walk again; never play golf with his grandsons; never sit comfortably to cheer on his beloved Colby College Mules. But when he arrived at Spaulding Rehabilitation after successful spinal surgery at Mass General Hospital, Sandy says his Spaulding team "changed my attitude toward what was going on in my life." His therapy team challenged Sandy's expectations for himself, getting him out of bed on his first day, when he had struggled to stand for a required X-ray just hours before. "Their enthusiasm and encouragement makes you want to work hard — for them!" says Sandy. His clinicians also made his rehabilitation fun and functional. They made sessions walking with parallel bars into visualization exercises, played games to test his balance, and hosted occupational therapy in the gym's kitchen so Sandy could build his strength to stand and cook his famous egg breakfast. "They told me where I was going, every step of the way," says Sandy. "I felt incredibly cared for." With the foundation built at Spaulding and continued outpatient rehabilitation, Sandy is now using a single cane and getting back to the activities he loves. To express their gratitude, Sandy

  • Patient Story

    Sandrick: Encontrando esperanza en Spaulding

    Read this story in English. Otoño 2022 Sandrick (sentado), rodeado de su familia y equipo de atención médica. La historia de Sandrick con Spaulding comenzó cuando una celebración familiar en Montreal se convirtió en tragedia. Mientras se dirigían a casa después de una fiesta de cumpleaños, Sandrick, con sus 14 años, y su familia estuvieron trágicamente involucrados en un tiroteo sin sentido. Una bala atingió el abdomen de Sandrick y se alojó en su espalda, paralizando al adolescente y dañando su riñón, bazo y pulmones. El pasó semanas en cuidados intensivos en Canadá y en el Massachusetts General Hospital antes de venir a Spaulding para su rehabilitación. Sandrick se dedicó a su rutina de rehabilitación. Con la ayuda de aparatos ortopédicos especializados y equipos de rehabilitación de vanguardia como el sistema de soporte de peso corporal ZeroG, los proveedores podrían colocar a Sandrick en una posición de pie durante parte de sus sesiones de terapia, mejorando su progreso en volver a aprender a caminar. "El personal de Spaulding fue excepcional", dijo su padre, Ricardo. "Sandrick ha progresado mucho". Ahora tiene movilidad en sus piernas y sueña con volver a jugar al baloncesto. Como muchos de nuestros pacientes, Sandrick y su familia se consolaron con la compasión