Emily and Georgia the Therapy Dog

Patient Story

After a Stroke, an Artist Finds Help from Man's Best Friend

Posted By Megan Washburn Give Now

After having a stroke while running on the treadmill, Emily Rutledge found help from an unlikely source: Georgia, the AbilityLab's therapy dog. Sometimes the best technology is man's best friend.


After having a stroke while running on the treadmill, Emily Rutledge found her way to RIC. Living down the street from the main hospital, RIC was not just a local choice, but also the best one for her recovery. During her inpatient stay, Emily worked on regaining her ability to speak with our resident animal therapy dog, Georgia. Sometimes Georgia would also cuddle up on Emily’s bed with her, which Emily loved since she missed her own dog so much.


“A few weeks after my stroke, I had trouble getting words out; but two, ‘Georgia, Speak!’, stuck with me. I had family visiting from out of state, and they couldn’t figure out who Georgia was, and I didn’t have the words to tell them. We laugh about that now.”

During her inpatient stay, Emily worked with her physical therapist, Christine, on walking, balancing and strength.

emily impatient therapy
Christine walking, balancing with strength.

“I used to call her ‘The A Team’ because she was my favorite and I had such trust in her. Every day I would say “hey, A Team”. As I got more words I told her why I called her that. She changed it to mean that we were the A Team because we worked so well together. About three weeks ago I had bracelets made for us with that saying. I wanted her to remember the confidence I had in her and how much that means to me.”

After completing inpatient therapy, Emily continued on to RIC’s Day Rehab. As a professional artist, Emily’s stroke has stopped her from being able to continue to produce her art. She is still hopeful that someday her arm will regain it’s strength enough for her to get back to her passion. Emily also participated in RIC’s Annual Art in Motion in 2016. Now, she is continuing working on her skills and continues to make great progress.

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Aphasia Therapy Groups & Classes provide an opportunity for individuals who are living with aphasia to practice their communication skills with others in both casual or intensive environments.

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