The Recovery Project is proud of the success of many of our current and previous clients. We have helped people with a variety of different programs, including physical therapy and occupational therapy, with many different medical focuses. These client stories represent just a small sampling of the personalized therapy programs we create for clients.
Charlie Parkhill is the co-founder and co-CEO of The Recovery Project. Charlie was injured in an ocean wave accident while vacationing with his wife in 1998, suffering an incomplete SCI at C -4/5. Given the typical prognosis of “you will never walk” and “will probably be fed through a feeding tube” he decided to put everything aside and vowed to beat “this thing”.
In 2013, 17-year-old Matt Sorisho experienced a fluke hockey play that sent him crashing awkwardly into the boards. The incident fractured his back and severed his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
Not one to easily give up in the face of adversity, Matt and his family set to work touring rehabilitation clinics in the metro Detroit area to find the right one where he could focus on regaining strength, improving his overall health and living a normal life. After trying several other clinics, he found The Recovery Project.
With the help of The Recovery Project, Matt continues to improve physically and mentally. As a student at Michigan State University, he lives independently and drives a car, and even plays golf several times a week with the assistance of an adaptive golf cart.
While Matt traditionally worked with The Recovery Project during school breaks and over the summer, the opening of the organization’s new Lansing clinic will give Matt better access to therapy services. This will allow him more flexibility to attend both classes and therapy, helping to keep him strong and healthy.
Mike Kiernan’s life changed drastically in 2015 when he fell 25 feet through his barn roof, suffering a thoracic level spinal cord injury and multiple pelvic fractures when he landed on the concrete floor below. After the accident, Mike attended physical therapy at another facility. At the completion of the program, therapists said he had reached his full potential of recovery.
Determined to persevere and continue his recovery, Mike came to The Recovery Project with the goals of walking safely and keeping up with his young children, driving again, and ultimately going back to work.
Four-year-old Scarlet was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a rare genetic disorder impacting her ability to build muscle strength. As a type-two SMA patient, she had very little function of her legs, arms and hands. She had poor core and head control, and could only sit up if propped against something or someone and was completely dependent on family members for feedings and changings.
Scarlet began receiving therapy treatments at The Recovery Project in March 2017. At the same time, she was finishing her load dose of a radical new treatment for SMA called Spinraza—becoming the first person in Michigan to receive the newly-approved drug. Between her work at The Recovery Project and Spinraza, Scarlet has experienced major improvements.
According to the makers of Spinraza, the types of results Scarlet has experienced at four months typically take six months or more to achieve. But thanks to the work of The Recovery Project coupled with this amazing new treatment, Scarlet has made significant progress as she, her family and the therapists at The Recovery Project continue to work together to help Scarlet achieve her goals.
“They are the most amazing group of people,” said Scarlet’s mom Hilary of the team at The Recovery Project. “They are so positive and everyone knows our names. They have the best high-end equipment—it’s the best therapy we’ve ever had."
If you’re interested in keeping up with Scarlet’s progress, follow Scarlet’s Smile on Facebook.
The onset of Transverse Myelitis, a severe neurological disorder where inflammation of both sides of the spinal cord occurs, can be sudden. For Karen Edmonds, it happened during a trip to Michigan to visit family, and the disease quickly took away her ability to walk.
Karen completed standard physical therapy in Michigan until she was able to return to her hometown of Forest City, North Carolina, where she continued to do the same basic therapy. Growing frustrated with a lack of progress, Karen returned to Michigan in 2016 and was referred to The Recovery Project by a well-known local physician.
She quickly found out that the therapists you work with make a big difference in results achieved.
At The Recovery Project, Karen engaged in a personalized, high intensity therapy program twice a week for two hours a day.
“The education that was incorporated, going over each muscle, what it was called and why they were going to strengthen it, truly kept it eye level for me to understand what was going on throughout the process. It really speaks to the level of service they provide at this facility.”
Prior to coming to The Recovery Project, Karen was unable to move her left leg forward. Thanks to the treatment received at The Recovery Project at the hands of the clinic’s caring, highly involved therapists, she is now able to walk on her own.
“I’ve completed physical therapy sessions at other locations both in Michigan and North Carolina, and none have matched the level of quality, high-intensity therapy this staff performs,” Karen said. “My progress has been incredible. At the beginning I was unable to move my legs—especially my left leg—due to the quick progression of the Transverse Myelitis. Now I’m able to move my leg forward and bring it up on my own, allowing me to take steps and giving me the ability to get out of my wheelchair. I attribute this to the work I did with the therapists at The Recovery Project and the courage they gave me to try again each day. I'm confident I am 100 percent better than if I would have stayed home and done regular therapy in North Carolina.
“My travel to Michigan to work with The Recovery Project was worth every mile.”
In August 2015, Joe Hallman was golfing with his son when he bent down to put a ball on the tee and experienced excruciating neck pain. He had his son drive him to the emergency room and, after multiple tests were taken, he was informed that he had a fractured neck caused by cancer. Joe was diagnosed with multiple myeloma—a cancer that can result in bone weakening and destruction.
But the former physical therapy teacher fought hard to improve. He moved from the hospital into a nursing home, and then a group home where his case manager referred him to The Recovery Project. Driven by the idea of teaching again, playing golf and walking without an assisted device, Joe ultimately wants to live independently and make a full recovery—a goal his therapists at The Recovery Project feel is absolutely attainable.
At The Recovery Project, Joe used a functional electrical stimulation (FES) bike to advance his strength and motor function, and a body-weight supported treadmill to improve gait quality and endurance. Stretching, strength and balance training were also key components of his workouts.
Over the course of his time at The Recovery Project, Joe’s progress has been incredible. At his initial evaluation in August 2016, he could only walk 553 feet with a wheeled walker in six minutes. By March 2017, he had progressed to 1337 feet. Joe is able to walk unassisted when supervised by his therapists and can perform high-level balance activities like dribbling a basketball again and even swinging a golf club!
When Scott M began occupational therapy at The Recovery Project in July 2016, he was only being fed through a J tube, which had been in place since March 2015 when he was admitted to the hospital for aspiration, and had completely stopped eating solid foods. He also coughed frequently and had to carry a cup with him at all times to cough into. In fact, because of how he presented, he was unable to complete portions of his initial evaluation due to safety precautions.
Tracey Stone often feels like Norm from Cheers when he’s at The Recovery Project.
“Everyone knows your name,” he says.
Since 2011, Tracey has attended twice-weekly sessions at The Recovery Project, focusing most of his efforts working the boxing mitts, or using the legs or arms cycles, to make sure his muscles stay loose and don’t get contracted.
Larissa has been participating in The Recovery Project’s supported fitness program for more than three years. During her semi-annual visit to the Michigan Institute for Neurological Disorders (MIND) clinic, Larissa met The Recovery Project co-CEO and lead physical therapist Polly Swingle, a regular practitioner at the clinic, for the first time. When Larissa’s doctor and Polly suggested she attend physical therapy at The Recovery Project, she decided to give it a try.
When asked how coming to The Recovery Project has helped him reach his goals, Carlos laughed kindly and said, “It’s everything. They’ve done so much, it’s hard to really simplify it. But I’ll try!”
“The Recovery Project really works with you, and they build a program completely customized to YOU,” Carlos said. “At the place I went to before, they stopped a lot of things I wanted to do, they didn’t understand my concept of training. I’d been working out, I was in the military. For me, when you make things harder, I enjoy it more and perform better. The other facility didn’t understand that, they wanted to stick to their outlined programs, so they stopped me from doing some things I wanted to do.”
“At The Recovery Project, they’re more for you than for any set program. They’ve worked with me to develop my own program, which I love, and they don’t hold me back,” he continued.
Carlos currently participates in physical and occupational therapy, as well as athletic training, four to five days per week. In addition to enjoying the customized, high-intensity programs, Carlos loves working with The Recovery Project team and how engaging and effective they make each session.
“The staff is so encouraging, everyone is in it to win it. All of the therapists know me, and I know them, whether or not they’re actually the therapist I’m working with at the time,” said Carlos. “Even when I’m working out with one therapist, others will come by to suggest different things to try. At other places, people stick to just their client, but at The Recovery Project, it’s an “OUR client” mentality, not just one person’s client.”
This integrated, connected approach has also helped to maximize his time spent there. He shared that with other rehab facilities, time would have to be spent each appointment by clinicians asking what he had been working on, and what he had tried already. “Here though,” he says, “everyone knows what you’re working on because you’re in the same space, and it keeps me on pace.”
Lastly, Carlos loves the open, fun and encouraging atmosphere at the clinics.
“I’ve built some nice friendships with other clients at The Recovery Project, and it’s just a great place to be. It’s more fast-paced, up-tempo, fun and funny,” he concluded. “I enjoy myself there, and I like to go.”
Tom Watkins, a spinal cord client, first started participating in high-intensity physical therapy at The Recovery Project two years ago after a hip replacement. After his surgery, Tom was seeking a rehab clinic closer to his Macomb County home, and decided to give The Recovery Project a try after receiving recommendations from another person with a spinal cord injury. The decision has been life changing.
Tom is currently participating in three days of physical therapy, and recently began therapeutic massage. In addition, he plans to start therapeutic yoga as well. As a result of his ongoing high-intensity therapy with The Recovery Project, Tom has experienced significant improvement in his core strength and his balance.
“The staff has a lot of passion and compassion for clients in comparison to anywhere else I’ve gone,” he continued. “They are always suggesting new treatment strategies, and they aren’t just going through the motions. You can tell they really want to make things better for you.”
Leo Lennox has been a client with The Recovery Project since 2008, after sustaining a C7 incomplete spinal cord injury in a four-wheeler accident. He received a strong recommendation from his case manager, and decided to give the facility a try.
“I have had a very good experience,” said Leo. “I would recommend it to anyone.”
When Brianna was six-years-old, she sustained a severe spinal cord injury in a car accident that left her a full quadriplegic with limited head and neck movement, and paralysis in her arms, torso and legs. Brianna began attending physical therapy at The Recovery Project in July 2006, and now at 12 years old, she visits the clinic two to three times per week.
Darrell came to The Recovery Project in a wheelchair after sustaining injuries to his head, neck, spine and ribs when he fell through the 20-foot-high ceiling of a house he was working on as part of his property preservation business. Accustomed to an active lifestyle, Darrell was suddenly motionless from the waist down. After undergoing five surgeries in five months, Darrell chose The Recovery Project for his high-intensity outpatient physical therapy.
Tomicko Byers came to The Recovery Project with a C-5 quadriplegia incomplete spinal cord injury, requiring minimal assistance with basic transfers, and maximum assistance with floor transfers. He had difficulty moving his legs at all, could not walk, and had poor sitting and standing balance.