Client Gary Wilson has spent time working with both the occupational therapy and physical therapy teams during his recovery.

Every 40 seconds in the United States, someone has a stroke, and every 3 minutes and 14 seconds, someone dies from one of those strokes. For those that survive, the recovery services, support, and resources they receive thereafter can make all the difference. 

In 2017, Gary Wilson had a stroke that impacted the use of his left arm, his walking, and his ability to perform daily tasks. After time spent at Massachusetts General Hospital and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s Outpatient Center in Braintree, he was discharged but knew he required further support to continue his recovery and regain his independence.

Typically, insurance does not cover rehabilitation costs beyond the immediate aftermath of stroke. Needing long-term rehabilitation, Wilson had to seek options outside the traditional healthcare system. That’s when he came to the MGH Institute, ultimately receiving services at the Tedy’s Team Center of Excellence in Stroke Recovery, whose goal is to improve the quality of life for stroke survivors. Over the past several years, Wilson has received both occupational therapy services through the Tabor/Connor Family Occupational Therapy Center for Learning, Participation, and Rehabilitation and physical therapy services through the Marjorie K. Ionta PT Center at the IHP, working with several students and clinicians. These two clinical centers work in partnership with the Tedy’s Team Center to ensure stroke survivors receive holistic care.

Currently, he is focused on PT, coming to the on-campus center every Tuesday to work with his student/clinician team - Fallon Katz, DPT ’24, and Gwen Larsen, an Instructor of Physical Therapy and Education/Community Outreach Coordinator in the Tedy's Team Center. In these sessions, Wilson practices walking, sitting, and standing, along with transferring to and from seats. He notes that this last skill is a challenge, but important so that he can do it at home. 

While the physical rehabilitation Wilson receives is key to his recovery, just as critical have been the connections and memories he’s made with the community in the Sanders IMPACT Practice Center, where the Tedy’s Team of Excellence in Stroke Recovery is housed.

Man sits in wheelchair in front of Tedy's Team sign
Wilson poses in front of the Sanders IMPACT Practice Center where the Tedy's Team of Excellence in Stroke Recovery is housed.

“Everyone I've worked with has been very informative, helpful, and cooperative,” he shared. “They have been so encouraging.”

Wilson has built strong relationships with the students he’s worked with in his time at the IHP, and these interactions motivate him to keep coming back. 

“I've learned about their educational endeavors and what they plan on doing,” he said. “I just love chatting with them about their history, about everything. There are so many different conversations to be had here.”

Larson notes that Wilson’s own drive has been critical in his improvement thus far.

“Gary is very consistent and very motivated,” said Larson. “He works hard in his sessions. Participating in physical therapy consistently has helped him maintain mobility skills, mitigate fall risk, and maintain independence over the years. This means he can attend medical appointments on his own and stay engaged with his family, which is important and meaningful to him.”

Wilson notes that his three granddaughters, in particular, push him to improve and keep working hard.

As is characteristic of work of the IPC, the students who have worked with Wilson during his time here have benefited greatly as well. 

“Gary has always arrived at our sessions with such a positive, can-do attitude,” said Katz. “He’s been very eager to not only work hard but to also help me grow as a student and future practitioner. This allowed Gary, myself, and Gwen to work as a team to problem solve and have meaningful sessions together.”

Gary IPC Team
Wilson poses with his physical therapy care team - Gwen Larsen, an Instructor of Physical Therapy and Education/Community Outreach Coordinator in the Tedy's Team Center of Excellence in Stroke Recovery and Fallon Katz, DPT ’24.

As OT clinical instructor Pauline Fiorello, who oversaw entry-level OTD students working with Wilson, noted: “Gary has been a great client for the students to learn from due to the challenges he faces following his cerebrovascular accident.”

Through his work at the IPC and on his own, Gary plans to continue his work towards physical recovery and self-sufficiency. He knows the journey may be long but is excited to push forward with the support of faculty, clinicians, and students at the IPC.

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