Keith Wilder, center, was a patient at Glancy Rehabilitation Center in Duluth, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Also pictured are Dr. Sunil Bhole, right, medical director for the facility, and Lisa Bradshaw, left, who served as Wilder’s case manager. (Staff Photo: Deanna Allen)
DULUTH — When Keith Wilder came to Glancy Rehabilitation Center after suffering a stroke in April he was unable to communicate and the right side of his body was paralyzed. He didn’t really understand what had happened to him.
As a singer — Wilder was a frontman for the ’70s funk band Heatwave — the inability to communicate was particularly devastating.
Wilder spent about a month at the Duluth rehabilitation center relearning many of the skills and functions of everyday life.
“I didn’t really know how bad I had gotten with the stroke,” Wilder said. “The people I worked with here got me where I’m at now.”
For Wilder, his rehabilitation went beyond that of a typical Glancy patient.
“With Keith, (communication) was very, very important,” Sunil Bhole, the facility’s medical director, said. “He spent his whole life as an entertainer and a lead singer of an internationally renowned band. He’s done this for 40 years plus, more than four decades, and so so for him it was extremely important that he to have goals beyond what the average patient here who has had a stroke is striving for.
“With Keith, he had to get back to doing what he loves doing the most, and that is singing,” Bhole said.
One goal in particular for Wilder was to be able to perform with his band during a summer concert at Chastain Park Amphitheatre. Under the care of Bhole, Lisa Bradshaw, his case manager, and the staff at the Duluth facility, Wilder was able to perform the song “Always and Forever” during the show. The concert came just two-and-a-half months after Wilder started rehab.
“It kind of brought me to tears because I hadn’t done it in a while,” he said. “Just being able to come back out there to sing was a blessing.”
Wilder was also expected to perform the song “Always and Forever” during a celebration of the facility’s 25th anniversary on Thursday. Glancy Rehabilitation Center is celebrating a quarter of a century of helping patients recover from a variety of conditions, including strokes, traumatic brain injuries, traumas, amputations and more.
The rehabilitation facility has 30 beds and serves patients ages 16 and older. It offers physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech language pathology for patients.
“Our goal is to return them back to the community and their home with family support,” said Mary Ann Wood, therapy manager. “When we talk about stroke-specific training, what I like to think of is you have a new birthday on the day that you have your stroke and your brain is being reborn, and so you have to retrain, so that’s what we do.”