Patient Experiences the Power of Rehab



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During National Rehabilitation Week, September 18 through 24, HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Erie celebrates “The Power of Rehabilitation” for patients overcoming challenges after illnesses and injuries.

Ray Cope, a 28-year math and science teacher, track coach and technology coordinator at Austin Area School District, remembers everything prior to December 3, 2015, the day he experienced a stroke.

In March of 2015, Ray was snowshoeing and cross-country skiing when he noticed he was experiencing claudication, a cramping pain in the leg caused by obstruction of the arteries. He began working out even harder to try and strengthen himself, but the pain worsened. In November, Ray learned he had a blood clot in his leg and needed bypass surgery on the artery. It was during his stay at the hospital he experienced a hemorrhage and showed signs of stroke.

From that point forward, Ray remembers nothing until December 22, 11 days into his inpatient rehabilitation stay at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Erie. He was unable to walk or stand when he arrived at HealthSouth Erie and was in a comatose state in which he couldn’t tell what day it was, but was functioning other than his left-sided weakness and vision cuts.

“He could remember the Pythagorean theory,” said Lora Cope, Ray’s wife. “His root memory was there, but he couldn’t put all of the pieces together.”

On December 22, Lora arrived at HealthSouth Erie to visit with Ray. He told her, “I have a doctor’s appointment today at 1 p.m. to get my eyes checked,” and Lora knew he was back.

“It was like a light switch came on and I remembered everything before the stroke,” Ray said.

“So many people made a difference in his outcome,” Lora said. “We continue to go back just to visit because the people at HealthSouth Erie are family.”

Ray walked out of HealthSouth Erie on January 4, 2016. His journey from his comatose state and needing maximum assistance to returning to work as a teacher and track and field coach is an inspiration to the community. Ray threw the opening pitch at the Erie SeaWolves season opener on April 14 where he served as an inspiration for reaching his rehabilitation goals.

National Rehabilitation Awareness Week was established in 1976 to create awareness of people with disabilities and promote the benefits of rehabilitation. In 1990, a presidential proclamation designated the third week of September as National Rehabilitation Awareness Week, which has grown to include more than 7,000 organizations.

About HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Erie
HealthSouth Erie is a 108-bed inpatient rehabilitation hospital that offers comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation services. Serving patients throughout northwest Pennsylvania, west New York and northeast Ohio, the hospital is located at 143 East Second Street and on the web at

About HealthSouth
HealthSouth is one of the nation’s largest providers of post-acute healthcare services, offering both facility-based and home-based post-acute services in 34 states and Puerto Rico through its network of inpatient rehabilitation hospitals, home health agencies, and hospice agencies. HealthSouth can be found on the web at