Shirley Ryan AbilityLab at Silver Cross Leads Joliet Man on Road to Recovery Following Stroke

Patient pays it forward motivating other stroke survivors with optimistic attitude

Hugo Flores had a big day ahead of him as he planned to go shopping in Chicago. Waking up, he felt a tingling sensation in his fingers to his toes on the left side of his body. The 57-year old stumbled to the bathroom where he noticed his lower lip was numb. Flores suspected he was having a stroke and called 911. Fortunately, he learned the warning signs through an educational program put on by a previous employer.

On Nov. 1, 2013, paramedics took the Joliet man to the closest hospital where was diagnosed with a bleed on the right side of his brain that affected the left side of his body. Once his condition was stabilized and he was ready for rehabilitation, Flores was transferred to Silver Cross Hospital where he recovered on the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab at Silver Cross inpatient unit. The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab at Silver Cross has been ranked the #1 rehabilitation hospital in the nation by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1991. Through a unique partnership with the Silver Cross Neuroscience Institute, patients like Flores are able to benefit from our comprehensive inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programs close to home in New Lenox, Homer Glen and the west side of Joliet.

A rehabilitation therapist leads Hugo Flores through an exercise.

Photo Caption: Hugo Flores shows his occupational therapist at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab at Silver Cross, Cheryl Tindall, how his range of motion has improved two years after suffering a stroke. Hugo spent four weeks recovering in the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab at Silver Cross inpatient unit in 2013.

“When Hugo arrived, most of his left side was paralyzed,” said Jennifer Zolp, RN and manager of the inpatient unit. “Our team of specially trained rehabilitation physicians, therapists and nurses collaborated with Hugo and his neurologist Dr. Nitin Nadkarni to develop a personalized plan of care so he could regain his mobility and independence.”

“All the people that took care of me were great,” said Flores. “They knew what my goal was – to recover 100%, and challenged me every day.”

Over the next four weeks, Flores worked with physical, occupational and speech therapists three hours each day in the Ability Achievement Center at Silver Cross Hospital. Through intense therapy, he relearned to walk and perform daily activities like showering and cooking. On Dec. 6, 2013, Flores went home to continue improving under the supervision of Silver Cross Home Health’s nurses and therapists for six more weeks. He also started attending a support group for stroke patients and their families at Silver Cross Hospital twice a month.

“Having a stroke is a life-changing situation,” said Flores. "I want to share my experience to motivate others; especially the new comers.”

“Hugo is one of the most inspirational people I have ever met. His optimism is infectious,” said Jennifer. “In fact, Hugo and another member of our stroke support group regularly visit a woman in an assisted living facility in Huntley who is also a Silver Cross stroke survivor. ”

Today, Flores walks with just a slight limp and has regained almost full use of his left hand. He continues to advance his ability by working out at a local gym five days a week; first on a stationary bike until he progressed enough to walk on a treadmill and then stair climber. He also lifts weights.

“I’ll keep working hard to achieve full recovery. That is my goal,” added Flores. “Perseverance is the key to recovery.”

For more information about inpatient care at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab at Silver Cross, call (815) 300-5971. Request a free stroke awareness kit, which includes the warning signs of stroke.

Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.