Former Olympic Rower Aims to Row Again Post Stroke


Lawrence KlecatskyDuring National Rehabilitation Week, recognized Sept. 18-24, HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Florence celebrates “The Power of Rehabilitation” for patients overcoming challenges after illnesses and injuries. While our teams of clinicians work together to provide the power of rehabilitation, former patients like Dr. Lawrence Klecatsky are the true heroes.

With more than 50 rowing national championships, more than 60 Canadian Henley world titles, a mention in Sports Illustrated and competing on the 1976 U.S. Olympic rowing team on his resume, Klecatsky has proven his ability to succeed and reach many goals when he sets his mind and his heart to it. However, at the age of 74, Klecatsky, a retired emergency medicine physician U.S. Navy veteran, was challenged by his fiercest competitor yet – a stroke.

On May 25, 2016, Klecatsky experienced a recurrent stroke just seven months after experiencing his first one. While he was already experiencing weakness on his left side, the weakness became more pronounced with the second stroke and also caused dysphagia, or swallowing difficulties. To help him regain function and get him back to consuming food orally, he chose HealthSouth Florence for inpatient rehabilitation. At HealthSouth Florence, a team of clinicians developed a comprehensive therapy plan to address his needs and goals during his 3 week stay as an inpatient. 

Upon admission to the hospital, Klecatsky, affectionately known by HealthSouth Florence staff as “Dr. K,” was not able to consume food by mouth, so he was receiving nutrition through a gastric tube. A speech-language therapist worked with him to help him progress from eating nothing at all to safely being able to swallow soft foods and thick liquids. The physical and occupational therapy teams helped him regain strength, balance and mobility so that he could safely return home to his wife and work on the skills needed to get back to one of the things he loved most – rowing.

“It did not matter if he was having a bad day, Dr. K would push through and get the job done,” said Julie Grooms, physical therapist at HealthSouth Florence. “In the end, his motivation, determination and hard work paid off and he was able to return home to his wife.”

Now in outpatient therapy, Klecatsky is making great strides toward reaching his goals and hopes to return to his boat and oars and get back on the water soon. 

Source: HealthSouth

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