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'A NEW MAN'

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Thanks to therapy, OL’s Sorley bowls and plays golf less than one year after suffering brain injury

 Leigh Shea recalls her early encounters with Richard Sorley.

 Sorley is an Oak Lawn resident whoPage-1-2-col-sorleyOak Lawn’s Richard Sorley laughs it up with staff members at Advocate Christ Medical Center Sept. 18 before being honored as a Rehabber of the Year. Photo by Jeff Vorva. underwent brain surgery last October at Christ Medical Center after a fall led to a subdural hematoma.
Following the surgery, Sorley began to work with a team of therapists at the hospital, including Shea.
 “We worked with him on quite a few different things,” said Shea, a speech therapist at the hospital.
Initially, Sorley, 80, had trouble with a variety of functions, including swallowing, walking, staying alert, memory and staying awake.
But steady improvement came as Sorley put in several weeks of hard work with Shea and the other therapists.
Cardiac complications interrupted Sorley’s therapy, but didn’t dampen his spirit, his therapists said. He resumed therapy as soon as he could and made significant progress.
The man who initially needed two people to help him stand eventually was walking 125 feet with a walker, climbing stairs and shaving.
He’s an example of what this program can do for people,” Shea said.
Sorley’s hard work and dedication were evident each day at therapy sessions, Shea said. “He just really pushed himself,” she said.
Physical therapist Alex Ramos concurred.
“It started very slow,” said Ramos, who recalled early sessions comprised of little more than sitting exercises.
But Sorely made steady progress.
“Every time he came in here, he looked better. He worked hard. There was never a question of motivation.” Ramos said.
One year later, Sorley is bowling—he recently rolled a 72—golfing and walking with only the aid of a cane.
“The turnaround he made is just tremendous,” Shea said. “He just wowed us.”
Sorley was one of six Christ Medical Center patients honored recently as a Rehabber of the Year.
The annual ceremony also recognized a child who sustained multiple injuries in a motor vehicle crash that killed one of her parents, a 17-year-old hockey and soccer player who overcame a traumatic brain injury and a firefighter who suffered a stroke while responding to a fire call. 
“It’s our favorite day of the year,” said Shea, who told Sorley’s story to an auditorium full of therapists, physicians, nurses and hospital staff.
Sorley was hesitant to talk about his road back, but credited his team of rehabilitation specialists for helping him get there.
“These people did a marvelous job,” Sorley said. “I can’t say enough about how much they put into their work.”
He also thanked his wife, Loraine, for “sticking with me” throughout his rehabilitation.
“He is a new man,” Shea said.