Learn more about UPMC patient Tom

Tom, a 73-year-old Vietnam veteran, has jumped out of an airplane, earned his pilot’s license, and become a certified scuba diver. He’s also raised a family with his wife of nearly 50 years, Jean.

But in 2015, a hemorrhagic stroke nearly put an end to Tom’s adventure-filled life. Facing only a 30-percent chance of survival, Tom underwent an experimental surgery as a part of a clinical trial through the UPMC Department of Neurosurgery.

After a 20-day post-surgery recovery, Tom began inpatient rehabilitation at the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute at UPMC Montefiore. Clinician Ed Hetherington and his team quickly became Tom’s second family.

The Rehabilitation Institute team helped him regain strength along the left side of his body, which was most affected by the stroke. Tom worked diligently to regain movement, especially in his hands and feet.

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Jean remembers the moment Tom was finally able to wiggle his left big toe.

“We were all so thrilled. All the nurses and clinicians came running in. We were cheering and crying. Everyone was so excited.”

Eight months after Tom was discharged to a nursing home for transitional rehabilitation, he suffered a seizure. When the ambulance driver asked if the couple had a hospital preference, Jean immediately told them it was UPMC Montefiore.

“Looking back, that seizure was almost a blessing in disguise. It gave us the opportunity to go back to the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute at UPMC Montefiore and continue working with the wonderful team there. They’re like our family! Ed does such a fine job with his staff. It is one thing to do your job, it’s another thing to really care about the people you work with.

About UPMC Rehabilitation Institute

The UPMC Rehabilitation Institute is a nationally recognized leader in physical rehabilitation. We are part of the largest rehabilitation network in western Pennsylvania and one of the largest in the United States, with locations across Pennsylvania and Maryland. Experts and support services at our inpatient rehab facilities and transitional units help patients recover from a variety of injuries and illnesses like brain and spinal cord injuries, stroke, trauma and amputation, transplantation, and more. We are home to Centers of Excellence for brain injury, spinal cord injury, and stroke rehabilitation. We combine our care with groundbreaking research to find the most cutting-edge techniques to treat our patients. Visit our website to find a location near you.