Ramon's story

Photo of Ramon Terrero at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation.

Ramon Terrero, who was born in Cuba, lived an independent life as a forklift operator in the United States. He had recently met the challenge of open-heart surgery and slowly recovered over several years. But that recovery came to a sudden halt one day when he experienced weakness on the entire left side of his body.

He was rushed to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a stroke. Ramon was left unable to walk and had left-side inattention – he no longer could automatically process information from vision, hearing and feeling from the left side of his body. “When I was in the hospital, they told me I wouldn’t be able to do anything,” he said. “I was worried, because I didn’t have anyone to care for me.”

Ramon was medically stable after five days, and his physicians recommended an intensive inpatient rehabilitation program to help him regain mobility and independence.

Ramon was admitted to Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation – Marlton where he began his journey back to independence. Recovering from a stroke may be one of the greatest challenges a person will ever face. His physician-led team of rehabilitation nurses, physical, occupational, speech and recreational therapists, and other stroke specialists developed a treatment plan to address Ramon’s needs.

In physical therapy, he focused on improving his balance, endurance and mobility. He practiced navigating his wheelchair over various surfaces and walking up and down the stairs. Similarly, his occupational therapists focused on increasing his arm strength and teaching him the techniques to complete daily activities on his own including bathing and dressing.

Ramon had a positive attitude and welcomed any opportunity to improve his independence. He participated in aquatic therapy in the recreational pool and worked on improving his mobility and thinking skills to re-enter the community by going to a nearby store with his therapists. He also learned strategies to support his thinking skills and participated in education groups to learn more about life after a stroke.

Through hard work and the support of his care team, Ramon progressed from requiring assistance to walk, move and complete daily activities to moving the left side of his body and completing daily activities with supervision.

His physical therapist reflected on Ramon’s positive attitude throughout his stay. “Ramon has such an amazing attitude and willingness to learn and continue to get better despite the diagnosis and personal situation,” he said. “He always has a smile on his face, lifting the spirits of staff and other patients alike.”

Throughout his stay, Ramon faced barriers including speaking English as a second language and living alone in the community. Most significantly, he found out that he lost his home. “I felt very desperate and hopeless,” he said. However, with the help of his ex-wife and case manager, and the significant improvements he had made, Ramon was able to discharge from Kessler to a new home.

Ramon extended his gratitude to his Kessler care team. “Before the therapy, I wasn’t able to move my left side at all, but now after all the therapy, I feel brand new … I have to thank [my therapists and nurses] a lot.”

He offered advice to other stroke survivors: “If someone were to be in this situation, I want people not to have any fear and not be scared.”