James Cho

March 4, 2014
In September of 2013, James Cho, 28, came down with a case of meningitis. When he was admitted to hospital, he was in a bad way. "I couldn't talk, swallow, stand or even sit up." Cho says. "I was pretty devastated by my situation. Walking, speech, all my abilities were gone." Cho was admitted next to West Park's Neurological Rehabilitation Service and would work for 16 weeks with staff to help regain those abilities. "He worked on his rehabilitation day and night," says Shannon Gallagher, one of the lead physiotherapists on his team. "Eventually he came up with his own plan and became a very strong partner on his care team," Gallagher added. "He came up with his own individualized, meaningful, very ambitious short-term goal," says lead physiotherapist Denise Stremler. And what a unique goal it was. James wanted to carry his mother on his back. In Korean culture, at weddings or when parents reach the age of 60, their children carry them on their backs as a gesture of gratitude and respect. This became Cho's short-term goal. And it was close to the end of his inpatient stay at West Park that Cho carried his mother on his back in the Neurological Rehabilitation Gym to applause and tears from staff, patients and family. Since Cho was discharged from the inpatient Neurological Rehabilitation service he has been working with rehabilitation staff in the Rehab Plus Health and Wellness Clinic at West Park. Now his goals have evolved. He wants to be able to drive again, and he wants to achieve that level of normalcy that many of us take for granted. "I just want to be normal and independent of course," Cho says. "I just want to be like my friends again." With Cho's determination, the support of his family and the leading, specialized services of West Park, it is easy to see that will happen.
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