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Meet Stan: Rehabilitation and determination pays off

Retirement often marks the beginning of a new chapter, filled with plans for relaxation and enjoyment. However, for Stan Gajek, his plans took an unexpected turn when, on the first day of his retirement after working for 30 years, he experienced a spinal stroke that left him with no movement below his waist.

Gajek’s rehabilitation began on HSC Winnipeg’s Intensive Care Unit and in HSC’s rehabilitation program. Daily sessions included stretching and exercises, gradually transitioning to physiotherapy. Janine, a key member of the team, along with HSC Winnipeg nurses and assistants, helped Gajek regain movement.

Almost exactly one year prior to Gajek’s stroke, HSC Foundation donors rallied together to purchase recreational equipment for HSC Winnipeg patients who have suffered spinal cord injuries, endured amputations, or have been diagnosed with neuromuscular disorders.

The equipment purchased included a new hand-cycle, which Gajek credits for opening his eyes to new possibilities beyond a wheelchair. From using the hand-cycle to participating in wheelchair basketball, Gajek embraced various therapeutic approaches.

“It’s important to try to stay active,” says Gajek. “I am grateful for the donors who funded this equipment that gave me the opportunity to be more active when in hospital.”

Gajek's tenacity has paid off. Recently, Gajek started climbing a few stairs with assistance. This remarkable progress is a testament to his determination, the unwavering support of the health care professionals at HSC, and the generosity of HSC Foundation donors. 

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