Spaulding Rehab Team teaches victims a 'new normal' - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

Spaulding Rehab Team teaches victims a 'new normal'

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CHARLESTOWN, Mass. (WHDH) -

The Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital opened just 12 days before the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings were brought in.

A total of 32 people with injuries ranging from amputated legs and severe burns were treated at the facility.

“These are the type of injuries that you see sustained in combat or military conflicts,” Director of Amputee Program Dr. David Crandell said.

These injuries were from the streets of Boston. Spaulding's Rehab Marathon Care Team treated amputations, broken bones, burns, hearing and memory loss. The team had to teach their patients a “new normal” way of life.

“After you've had an amputation of any kind, your body changes and adapts and then it doesn't keep its normal muscle symmetry,” Kristen Vito, a physical therapist said.

Patients had to learn everything, how to get in and out of a bed and how to take a shower. The Spaulding Rehab team taught them how to adapt.

“To have this number of traumatic amputees all arriving at the same time was a very unique experience,” Dr. Crandell said.

Victims were arriving at a hospital that had only been open 12 days, which led to a lot of firsts.

Never before had these doctors treated members of the same family like the Norton brothers or the Corcorans. While treating mom, celeste Corcoran, Dr. Crandell had to make a promise to her daughter, the then 18-year-old Sydney.

“I promised to wake her up after 10 in the morning. That worked out pretty well. I have a couple of teenagers at home,” Dr. Crandell said.

The doctors were also navigating a new building and getting used to the security protocols which made for some unexpected adventures.

“You forget your badge downstairs or you’ve locked it in your locker, and you're locked out of everywhere,” Jimmial Poirer, an occupational therapist said.

“It was just one of those situations where if you didn't laugh, you were going to cry. So you might as well laugh. I think that as the patients recovered and healed and getting better and stronger, it helped us as a group heal,” Vito said.

The doctors tried to give the patients some privacy. Each one was given an alias that started with the letter x, followed by a car name.

“Someone got a mustang and they were very excited about that,” Vito said.

Patients and doctors alike had to relish in those moments because the road to recovery was a long one.

“Many people in our group and our team, they were able to look back with a lot of pride in terms of the challenges that they met,” Director of Psychology. Dr. Chris Carter said.

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