Stroke: Alfred Hoffman's Story - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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Alfred Hoffman's Story

Former US Ambassador to Portugal, Age 79, North Palm Beach, FL

RIC patient Alfred HoffmanAs the founder of Florida’s largest real estate development company and the appointed Ambassador to the Republic of Portugal by President Bush, Al Hoffman had always been great at managing an immense workload. So, when he underwent successful open-heart surgery in late 2012 and suffered a stroke just 10 days later, that sense of determination and perseverance that had defined his career would be a guiding force in his recovery.

Al’s stroke was on his right side, rendering his left side paralyzed. A physician friend of Al’s had suffered a stroke just a year earlier and had gone to RIC for his rehabilitation care with great results. “RIC came highly recommended to us from my physician and personal friends,” said Hoffman. “It’s the best in the country!”

Al was admitted to RIC’s new Patient Recovery Unit featuring the world’s first AbilityLab™ where clinicians and researchers surrounded his rehabilitation process together. He received physical and occupational therapy daily and was enrolled in a pilot high-intensity walking trial based on some early results in one of RIC’s clinical research trials that showed promising results. The pilot program had patients walk at a high intensity for a full hour – much like a hard workout at a gym. The outcome was better balance, endurance, strength – in all, better performance, quicker.

Al started walking only about 40 feet with assistance, but then was doing laps on the floor with his physical therapist whom he called “Big Mike.”

“He never gave up on me,” said Hoffman. “He always encouraged me with a quiet voice and a big smile.”

Al had always been a very health-conscious man who worked out several times a week prior to his stroke. He worked very hard during his sessions with the goal of returning to walking without assistance and being able to enjoy life with his family. Al left RIC using only a cane and “the tools to continue working on my recovery,” as he put it.

Today, Al walks completely independently and now has use of his arm and hand. He has resumed his busy schedule, and is enjoying his life with his wife. “My goal was to be with my girls and live life to the fullest,” he said. “And, I am.”