Sterling's story

Sterling in a white t-shirt standing in the middle of a group of therapists.

Sterling Rigby

Sterling Rigby, 58, is a married father of three children and worked as a corrections officer in his home country of the Bahamas. One evening in July after church, Sterling and his wife decided to grab dinner at a local bowling alley. They enjoyed their meal and were on their way home when Sterling, who was not driving, suddenly realized he could not feel his left leg. He told his wife what was happening and she drove straight to the hospital.

Doctors quickly realized that Sterling was suffering from a stroke, which ultimately left him unable to walk or speak. With limited options for inpatient rehabilitation in the Bahamas, Sterling’s insurance opted to send him to West Gables Rehabilitation Hospital in Miami, Florida, to continue his recovery.

Sterling arrived at West Gables at the end of November, over four months after he had suffered his stroke. His main goal upon admission was to walk again, as well as improve his speech so he could more easily and clearly communicate. To help achieve these goals and increase independence, Sterling began a regimen of physical, occupational and speech therapy.

To get him moving, physical therapists used the LiteGait, a device that simultaneously controls weight bearing, posture and balance using a harness over a treadmill or the ground. This helped Sterling build up his strength and balance over time. He also used the Bioness Vector, a body weight support harness system that is mounted on the ceiling and designed to support mobility and balance training while virtually eliminating the risk of falls and injuries.

Speech therapists worked with Sterling on vocal and oral motor drills to help rebuild connections between his brain and body. They also practiced swallowing strategies and vowel/letter formation to help him eat more safely and speak more clearly.

In occupational therapy, Sterling worked on progressing his ability to perform activities of daily living, including bathing and dressing, to become more independent. They also worked on improving his overall endurance using light therapeutic exercises.

A huge milestone for Sterling in his recovery was when he was able to begin walking without support. He credits the specialized equipment with achieving that goal. He was also grateful for the moral support he received from his care team and family.

By mid-January, Sterling had made tremendous gains in his ability to walk and speak and was ready to head back home to the Bahamas, where he planned to continue his recovery with outpatient therapy.

Sterling had high praise for the staff at West Gables, describing his experience as “fabulous!” He also thinks his positive attitude and outlook made a difference, too.