Relearning a new world: Navigating life after a stroke

Stroke, a leading cause of death in the United States, can happen to anyone at any time. Just ask husband, father, entrepreneur and athlete Steve Zarrilli. At 58-years old, he felt healthy and fit as he drove to Ocean City, New Jersey. Just a few weeks earlier, Zarrilli completed a 65-mile Philadelphia to Shore charity bike ride, and he was eager to return to the shore to enjoy some much-deserved rest and relaxation with his family.

Zarrilli didn't know his world was about to change as he drove down the highway on a bright and sunny July day in 2019.


The EksoNR Exoskeleton Robotic Device

A wearable, battery-operated bionic exoskeleton, the EksoNR is designed to help patients learn to stand and walk during rehabilitation. The EksoNR is the first and only exoskeleton device to receive FDA approval for the rehabilitation of patients with acquired brain injury. Bryn Mawr Rehab therapists use this device to help promote correct movement patterns in all recovery phases for patients who have experienced a brain injury, stroke or an incomplete spinal cord injury.

Our therapists individually assess each patient to ensure that the exoskeleton robotic device is the proper treatment based on their injuries and goals. Each session is focused on specific gait training goals the patient and therapist established together. Feedback from the device is also used to help achieve these goals.

Stroke recovery program

At Bryn Mawr Rehab, we care for more than 600 patients recovering from stroke every year. Our intensive stroke recovery program is certified and accredited by several national health care organizations. Acute inpatient rehab begins as quickly as possible after a stroke. Patients receive a minimum of three hours of therapy a day, five days a week. Stroke patients have access to cutting-edge technology, including robotic exoskeletons, body weight supported walking devices and upper extremity robotic devices, which help the patient rebuild the strength and coordination of movement and improve overall function. Technology, coupled with the skilled hands of our expert clinicians, provides our patients with the best opportunity for success.

After the inpatient rehab stay has concluded, patients may benefit from ongoing specialized services in the outpatient stroke rehab program. We pride ourselves on a seamless continuum of care where an effective handoff occurs between the inpatient and outpatient care teams.

Finding new strength: Beating the odds after COVID-19

"I was overcome with emotion when I saw so many amazing people from my care team clapping for me as I was discharged from Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital," shares 72-year-old Mike Capozzoli.

With the theme song to Rocky playing in the background, Capozzoli was reunited with his family after a months-long battle with COVID-19. Just like the title character in the movie, Capozzoli overcame the odds. It was the care he received at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital that made it happen.


Speech therapy during COVID

Bryn Mawr Rehab provides expert diagnosis and treatment of speech, language, cognitive and swallowing disorders for both inpatients and outpatients. Our team works closely and collaboratively with patients, their families and the extended therapy team to support patients in their recovery.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Bryn Mawr Rehab's talented team developed innovative speech therapy solutions to ensure staff and patient safety while effectively addressing patient needs.

"Patients in our speech therapy programs often rely on visual cues centered around mouth and throat movements. While extremely important to slow the spread of COVID-19, PPE and face masks present unique challenges for speech therapy. I am so proud of how quickly the entire team came together to develop dynamic, innovative solutions for our staff and our patients so we could continue to offer excellent care, even during an unprecedented pandemic," says Julie Klappert, speech pathologist at Bryn Mawr Rehab.

Therapists implement telehealth whenever possible and use plexiglass, face shields and transparent masks during in person patient sessions. In some instances, one therapist will enter the patient room in full PPE. At the same time, another stands in the doorway behind plexiglass, allowing the patient to see facial movements and other visual cues from one therapist while the other works directly with the patient.

"Our team will continue to find solutions and tackle any challenges that come our way until the pandemic is over," Klappert says.

Why choose Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital

Deciding where to go for rehabilitation is a critical step in your recovery. At Bryn Mawr Rehab, we offer private tours of our facility and clinical liaisons who provide one-on-one consultations with patients and caregivers. Our patients receive the highest quality therapy, nursing and physician care with experts to guide them on their recovery journey.

As one of the most comprehensive rehabilitation hospitals in Pennsylvania, we take a creative approach to a wide range of rehabilitation services to help patients re-establish their lives. Our dedicated team creates custom therapy plans for each patient, building on every moment of triumph along the way. Celebrating this incremental progress keeps us—and our patients—driven to keep improving every single day. For this reason, Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital is being chosen by patients and their families more than ever as their destination for recovery.


You may also download Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital's Impact Report (PDF) to print and share with family and friends.