Laetitia & mom in the Life Center

Patient Story

Learning to Get Up Again After a Spinal Cord Injury

Posted By Meg Washburn


Seventeen-year-old Laetitia always loved horses and riding. She grew up learning how to ride. While on a routine ride with her sister in Beirut, she fell from her horse and suffered a severe spinal cord injury, leaving her completely paralyzed from the neck down.

Devastated by her injury and by a very doubtful early prognosis, Laetitia’s father Georges Hatem, searched the globe for a place that could help his daughter. He found RIC online and was intrigued by RIC’s deep scientific enterprise. He organized a medical flight and flew his daughter more than 10,000 miles, from Beirut to Chicago.  

Laetitia was admitted to AbilityLab's Pediatric Inpatient Unit, which treats children and young adults under 18 years old, and she began a comprehensive rehabilitation program. She was the beneficiary of several innovative therapies that were taken from RIC’s research learning and applied to her treatment plan. She also utilized one of unique robotic devices – the Lokomat – and Intelligent Stretcher, to help her regain her natural gait pattern and control over her foot and ankle.

Laetitia made great progress regaining the use of her arms and legs fine tuning her abilities further in the DayRehab program. With the support of her family and the care team, her hard work and determination paid off – she walked out of the hospital entirely on her own. Having proven her surgeon wrong about her prognosis, she returned home to Beirut and was able to graduate with her class. Laetitia has now become a spokesperson and advocate for rehabilitation medicine in Beirut.

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