Bert's story

A smiling Bert wearing a white patterned polo

Retired civil servant and Meals on Wheels volunteer Bert Pearce-Marshall, 63, was sleeping when he awoke to find that he could not move the left side of his body. Bert was rushed to the emergency room where doctors quickly realized that he had suffered a stroke.

After spending two weeks in the hospital, Bert was stable and ready to begin his recovery. His many friends in the medical field recommended that he go to Riverside Rehabilitation Hospital for the next step of his journey.

Upon arriving at Riverside, Bert was unable to walk, needed two people to assist him in getting out of bed and had no movement in his left arm. His primary goal was to regain the use of his left leg and arm and resume a normal life with his husband of eight years. Bert’s physician-led care team, which included physical, occupational and recreation therapists, formulated a care plan to help him reach his goals.

Physical therapists worked with Bert to increase his strength and endurance. While he initially felt deflated and unsure that he’d ever walk again, Bert quickly channeled his energy into working hard and setting high goals for himself. He began walking in the parallel bars using an overhead harness system to support his weight while allowing him to get his legs moving, starting with just five steps at a time. Bert even requested extra therapy on Sundays, as he wasn’t satisfied resting all weekend.

Occupational therapists and recreation therapists worked with Bert on regaining movement in his left arm with a variety of exercises and training on new ways to perform his personal care. As part of these sessions, he played cards his recreation therapist using an adaptive card holder to help hold and sort his cards.

“Bert has been an extremely hard worker during his time at Riverside Rehabilitation Hospital and has never given up despite the challenges he has faced along the way,” one of his therapists said. “His progress is a true reflection of all of the hard work he put forth during every therapy session.” Another therapist noted that Bert “has always been super pleasant and motivated, even on the days he was down. He loved spending time outside to help boost his mood and was willing to do anything we asked.”

After six weeks of intensive rehabilitation, Bert made amazing improvements. He was able to stand without assistance, go up and down steps and walk over 200 feet with a walker. Bert was also able to raise his left arm and use it to assist with self-care tasks, and could pick up items off of a table. His husband participated in his therapy sessions and underwent training to learn how to help Bert when he returned home.

Bert says that his experience at Riverside Rehabilitation Hospital taught him that he can achieve more than he ever thought possible. He encourages anyone who is facing recovery and rehabilitation “to go into it with a positive attitude and do not let your fear hold you back.” He also noted that the hardest part of the experience was saying goodbye to his care team, adding “They have taught me how to trust again. That is something that had been difficult for me.”

Bert plans to continue his recovery with several weeks of home health care, then will progress to outpatient therapy. He is looking forward to traveling with his husband and socializing with friends, as well as resuming his volunteer work with Meals on Wheels.