Finding His Center
After a stroke, JR Reid embraced innovative treatments at Shepherd Center.
When you talk to JR Reid, two things quickly become apparent — his love for his family and for technology. The 49-year-old is a husband and father of two and was named chief information officer (CIO) of JP Morgan Chase’s new employee experience and corporate technology organization in 2021. JR is the company’s first African American CIO.
On the day a stroke turned his life upside down, he was on the go as usual, but he didn’t feel right when he got home. “I got dizzy, and I couldn't stand up straight,” JR recalls.
His wife rushed him to Northside Hospital in Cumming, Georgia, where doctors discovered he had experienced a hemorrhagic stroke, which caused paralysis on his left side. After 10 days in the hospital, JR’s team at Northside recommended Shepherd Center, where he spent 10 weeks in the Comprehensive Rehabilitation Unit (CRU).
“It was very intense,” he recalls. “But I see now how critical it was for me to be there because when I got to Shepherd, I couldn’t even sit up straight. I couldn't find my center.”
After graduating from inpatient rehabilitation, JR completed the Day Program at Shepherd Pathways, Shepherd Center’s comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation program for people recovering from brain injury.
JR says his wife helped him stay focused on recovery, and the whole experience brought them closer.
“Thank God for her; she coached me through my bad moments.”
And his team at Shepherd provided the tools he needed as well.
“It was very comprehensive, having the different therapists all working on getting you back into your daily activities and teaching you compensatory strategies to be self-sufficient again,” he explains. “It gave me a sense of self, a sense of being independent.”
JR embraced both the high and low-tech elements of his treatment. From the kitchen in Shepherd’s I Can Studio to the equipment in the gym.
“I was able to navigate the kitchen and cook with my wife and daughter. And then I think about all the innovative tools at Shepherd, like the Lokomat®. I call it the Iron Man suit – it gives you immediate feedback. I could stand and take steps to retrain my brain on how to walk. It gave me a sense of hope.”
JR also tried – and loved – aquatic therapy. “I loved it in the water. Certain muscles weren’t kicking on, and after I got out of the pool and back on the land, my brain finally got it, and my quad muscles started working.”
A computer scientist at heart, JR wanted to figure out how to get back to work. His therapist introduced a wearable device that helps patients simulate using a keyboard. That, combined with mirror therapy, helped JR start retraining his left hand.
Now, JR spends his mornings working, and in the afternoons, he does more therapy. He hopes to get back into golf — he practiced during his rehabilitation at Shepherd Pathways. For now, he’s hitting the links at home with the help of his kids’ Wii golf game, which he learned to use in recreational therapy to help build his stamina to stand in a fun and engaging way.
Written by Ruth Underwood
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Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.