Rehabbing Patient Perseveres Thanks to Positive Attitude and Galter LifeCenter Support

by David Modica | May 17, 2016
Maritza Gonzalez has been through a lot following major spine surgery, but her strong spirit, positive attitude and focus on goal setting—along with support from the team at Galter LifeCenter—has helped her take important steps on her journey to recovery.


A resident of the McKinley Park neighborhood near Comisky Park, Maritza began experiencing serious leg pain over several days in the fall of 2014. Following a doctor visit, an MRI was scheduled for the next week. However, before her appointment, she suffered a fall when she felt severe pain and couldn’t support herself.

She was diagnosed with a malformation of blood vessels in her spine. She elected to have surgery, which had the potential to prevent further damage and improve her ability to use her legs again. Unfortunately, following the procedure she experienced spinal shock, causing her legs to feel heavy and prohibiting her ability to move them.

After surgery, Maritza began extensive rehabilitation and saw some improvement. She accomplished her goal of being on her feet within six months of the surgery. Then she went for a second surgery to insert a rod to help support her spine. With additional rehabilitation, she continued to improve, but she was looking for more opportunities to further advance her rehab process to enable further use of her legs.

Her therapist suggested Galter LifeCenter for the variety of fitness and rehabilitation programs and warm water therapy pools. Maritza took her advice and met with Autumn Joyce, a certified dance movement therapist and certified counselor at Galter LifeCenter. Maritza began with Aqua Zumba, Aqua Blast and Aqua Mix classes in January, 2016 to further support her recovery.

“I really like the class instructors because they explain everything and challenge me while still making classes fun,” she said. “Jandra, Shannon and Delia—some of my instructors—inspire you and make it easy for you to come here. And they have helped me make some very good progress.”

She has forged relationships with the on-deck pool and fitness staff, which led her to learn about other Galter LifeCenter programs and services. Maritza then started with a free Aqua Movement session in the warm water therapy pool, which helped improve her flexibility and pain management. The team also helped her develop a daily routine and provided Maritza with suggestions and insight on how to continue on her recovery.

Next, Maritza tried Aqua Pilates and further expanded her rehabilitation activities to include yoga classes like gentle yoga and a stretching class. She finds the combination of classes aid her in the different aspects of her recovery. She continues to make both short and long term progress with this routine. And Maritza’s next goal is to improve her alignment, strengthen her ankles and ultimately lose the braces she currently uses.

Maritza continues to notice positive changes. “I’ve gotten a lot stronger and I can keep up with the instructor in aqua classes and I don’t need to hold onto the wall,” she added. “I’m also able to keep up in other classes and I’m able to do everything on my own.”

“Although I’m proud of the progress I’ve made, and I’m happy at how far I’ve come, I want to get stronger so I can do everything the way I used too,” Maritza said. “I’m going to keep doing everything I can to keep progressing so I’ll need as little of assistance from a medical device as possible.”

“I want to get stronger so that I can walk, even if it is with some assistance,” she said. “I told myself that within six months of the surgeries I would be on my feet, and with some help I was. I’ve been through a lot, but I have goals that I want to reach. With the help of Galter LifeCenter’s classes and team and my supportive family, I’m well on my way.”

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