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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 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

    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

    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 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 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 Dylan | A Spaulding Story of Strength

    On December 28, 2010, life as Dylan and his family knew it would change forever. It was on this evening that Dylan was driving to a friend’s house when his car hit a patch of black ice, propelling him directly into a telephone pole. Dylan endured a tremendous amount of damage to his brain, causing him to slip into a vegetative state – a condition of wakeful unconsciousness. After a month of showing little improvement, Dylan’s doctors relayed the crushing news to his parents, Tracy and Steve, that he was likely to stay in this state for the rest of his life. Then, a beacon of hope emerged – Dr. Joseph Giacino, Spaulding Rehabilitation Network’s Director of Disorders of Consciousness Program, was called in to consult on Dylan’s case. After observing Dylan over time, he began to think his brain may just need more time to heal. Dylan began to show incremental signs of improvement, and after spending three months in the acute care hospital, he was transferred to the Pediatric Unit at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital for rehabilitation.    “Now there’s evidence that if you do rehearsal of a particular behavior with a damaged brain, it may very well get better,” said

  • Patient Story

    Meet Christine

    After an infection led to many surgeries and a double leg amputation, Christine found her strength with the help of Dr. Crandell and her physical therapist, Carlyn.  “It’s just a huge group effort here to help every single patient find their strength again.” View more Patient

  • Patient Story

    Meet Braiden

    Leer en español Does something meaningful hang on your walls at home? For Braiden Norton, it’s a special piece of artwork displayed in his bedroom—a canvas the 15-year-old painted while he was a patient at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. Braiden came to Spaulding after his third surgery for a tumor found on his brainstem when he was just one year old. The surgery left him unable to walk, talk, swallow, or communicate beyond a thumbs-up or -down signal, and it was a heart-wrenchingly difficult time for Braiden and his devoted dad, Phil. But just 32 days later, father and son walked out Spaulding’s doors together. They were heading home. Spaulding’s pediatric therapy and child-life teams help our youngest patients and their families do the activities they love, even as they go through treatment. One popular activity is syringe art—a creative way to paint using a common medical device. Braiden’s syringe art hangs above his desk, a reminder of the transformational journey and care he experienced at Spaulding. Your walls might display meaningful art, mementos from adventures, or cherished family photos. At Spaulding, our walls are decorated with patient art—and the names of our most generous donors. A multi-media installation at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston honors

  • Patient Story

    Meet Alan: A Second Chance at Life After Stroke and COVID-19

    Leer esta historia en español. Spring 2022 Because of Spaulding, patients like Alan LaChance can make incredible recoveries. Shortly after Thanksgiving, Alan woke up feeling like he couldn’t breathe. He was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with COVID-19. The 37-year-old’s condition declined rapidly, and he sent a text to close friends saying he knew he was dying. That’s the last thing Alan remembers before he woke up four weeks later. Alan had been put on a ventilator and sustained multiple strokes while unconscious. He was no longer able to speak or move his right side. Alan and his family knew he needed to go to Spaulding Cape Cod for his rehabilitation. “Spaulding Cape Cod gives you the tools to recover,” Alan says. “With two young kids, I have a lot to work for.” New, innovative therapies discovered through research can enhance recovery and quality of life for people overcoming conditions such as COVID-19 or stroke—or both, like Alan. By helping us invest in leading-edge rehabilitation technologies, clinical training on innovative therapies and groundbreaking research, donations to Spaulding have an impact on our patients today and for years to come. As an avid exerciser and active employee at a utility company, Alan adopted a “bootcamp” mentality at Spaulding Cape Cod and resolved to “get up