Walter’s Story: A Life Regained Following Stroke - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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Walter’s Story: A Life Regained Following Stroke

Published on June 10, 2016

Walter’s Story: A Life Regained Following Stroke


Nine days after retiring as a director of labor relations, Walter Mason had a stroke. Alone in his home, he called 911 and was air lifted to a local stroke center.


During his stay there, he started learning about the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago’s reputation. A case manager also highly recommended RIC, and he soon transferred.

When Walter arrived at RIC, he was paralyzed on the right side of his body and his speech was affected. He spent one month on the eighth floor as an inpatient. He arrived on a Saturday, and by the following Tuesday, he took his first steps. Soon after, he began walking and didn’t stop.

Toward the end of his stay he was doing laps around the floor and always volunteered for additional therapy – often participating in four to five hours each day. Walter regularly met with speech language pathologists (SLPs) to work on his speech, completed occupational therapy in the computer center and, when he was further along in his recovery, took a group trip to the Museum of Contemporary Art where he walked up 32 stairs to the building’s main entrance.

He also participated in three research studies during his time, including the Honda Study through RIC’s Max Näder Lab for Rehabilitation Technologies and Outcomes Research. This study assessed the Honda Walking Assist device, which was created to improve mobility in people with weakened leg muscles.

After four weeks of therapy, Walter walked out of RIC on his own.

“RIC helped me get my life back…it’s night and day from where I started and where I am today.”


Following his discharge, he continued with occupational and physical therapy closer to home and then transitioned to working out with a personal trainer. Now, he works to promote a program that offers continuing therapy and exercise for patients coming out of rehabilitation. He also volunteers his time speaking with other patients to help them on their journey during and after inpatient care. He has even been re-certified to drive.

Walter has many fond memories of RIC, including his time with the “fantastic” eighth floor staff. Today, he keeps a video on his iPad from two weeks into his RIC stay and, whenever he gets frustrated, he plays it back.

“It shows me where I came from,” he explained.