Stroke: Maria Diamond's Story - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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Maria Diamond's Story

College Student, Age 22, Wheaton, IL

RIC patient Maria DiamondMaria was home from Notre Dame for winter break when she was struck with a pounding headache. She went to bed and awoke in the middle of the night in immense pain, falling out of bed with a thud. Her dad checked on her and it was soon determined that they needed help and she was taken by ambulance to the hospital.

Doctors discovered Maria had an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), or a tangle of blood vessels in her brain that caused a stroke. At 20, Maria underwent brain surgery to fix the damage and woke up unable to move, eat, or speak. Her parents consulted family members who were doctors, seeking advice on a location for Maria’s rehabilitation. The choice was pretty clear to them – RIC.

Maria was admitted to RIC’s new Patient Recovery Unit featuring the world’s first AbilityLab™ – a unique pilot for RIC’s future Research Hospital that integrates clinical and science teams, placing them in the same space surrounding the patients.

“The unit was definitely high-tech,” said Maria about her experience. Her care team included a physician, physical and occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, psychologists, researchers, and many other specialists who had access to state-of-the-art robots and tools to help Maria regain her ability to walk, talk, eat, and be independent again.

Maria returned to Notre Dame where she is studying pre-law. She also participated in RIC’s annual fundraising stair climb event, SkyRise Chicago, and climbed with several members of her 9th floor care team as the ultimate demonstration of her successful recovery.

“I never thought this would happen to me in a million years,” said Maria. “I’m glad I had a place like RIC to help me. I can’t say enough about my care team – they’re so motivating and truly know what it takes to get you better. RIC was amazing.”