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UPDATE: Lauren, 21, recovers from stroke with help from Mary Free Bed

Updated October 22, 2019

Lauren Ziegler achieved her goal of running a half-marathon on October 20.

She finished the half-marathon at the Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon five minutes faster than she had planned. She also plans to continue running and run in more races in the future.

Updated April 9, 2019

Lauren Ziegler is afraid of heights, but that didn’t stop the adventuresome 21-year-old from crossing Devil’s Bridge in Sedona.

Accompanied by her boyfriend, Austin Sall, Lauren hiked nearly two miles to the Arizona landmark and gazed at the breathtaking sandstone arch that looms 50 feet above the ground.

“I stood there thinking about how a few weeks ago, I couldn’t walk down a hallway without help,” Lauren said. “I thought, ‘I’m going to do this.’”

The March trip west to visit Austin was a milestone for Lauren. Slowly and steadily, she’s regaining strength, mobility and endurance in the aftermath of a massive stroke just three months earlier. Since graduating Jan. 25 from Mary Free Bed’s inpatient Stroke Program, Lauren continued outpatient therapy near her Detroit-area home. She no longer needs physical or speech therapy, and has just four weeks to go in occupational therapy.

She’s also made several visits with her family from their Detroit-area home to see friends at Grand Valley State University and to work out at CrossFit 616. Lauren is an avid athlete actively involved in the elite fitness program.

“It’s hard not to compare myself to where I was before, because I can’t really do that,” Lauren said. “I just go into working out with the mindset that everything I do is pretty much a personal record.”

The GVSU senior is excited to return to school in June to finish her undergraduate degree before applying to physical therapy school.

Lauren and her mom, Stacie, recently visited Mary Free Bed to see her rehabilitation team and share how their support has helped her fight and win the battle for independence. She even showed off how she can tie her own shoes now.

“Lauren’s the kind of person who learns how to swim by jumping in feet first,” Stacie said. “She’ll find some way to do it. She believes in herself.”

Originally published Jan. 31, 2019

Lauren Ziegler is a 21-year-old college student who loves to work out and prides herself on living a healthy lifestyle. When she woke up Dec. 6 to get ready for class, the Grand Valley State University senior knew something was seriously wrong.

“I kept collapsing, and I wasn’t able to get back up off the ground,” said Lauren, who was able to crawl to her phone and call her sister for help.

After Lauren arrived at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, a Comprehensive Stroke Center, doctors determined she had experienced a massive stroke that caused paralysis on one side of her body and a host of other complications. Spectrum’s interdisciplinary team of experts worked to save her life, and two weeks later she was medically stable and ready to begin acute rehabilitation at Mary Free Bed.

When she arrived on Dec. 18, Lauren couldn’t stand without assistance or care for herself. During the next several weeks, she participated in the Stroke Program’s high-intensity gait training to help her regain strength and endurance.

“She was the perfect candidate and progressed very quickly,” said Lauren Lenca, a physical therapist on Mary Free Bed’s stroke and research teams. “She welcomed every challenge we gave her. Her motivation and work ethic will take her far in life.”

In this video, you’ll watch how Lauren worked diligently with her physical, occupational, speech-language and recreational therapists and has made an amazing recovery.

After graduation from Mary Free Bed on Jan. 25, Lauren headed home with her family to Commerce Township, a suburb of Detroit. She’ll continue outpatient therapy there, until she’s ready to return to school.



What an inspiration Lauren is to others. You go Lauren! You will be helping others in no time.

Lynn Etheridge

Will pray for LAUREN’s continued healing and recovery!!! Praise God for her incredible testimony!!!! Thanks for sharing this/her journey!!!

Peggy Hawke

Prayers continue for Lauren and her family, but so proud to know this young woman who takes on life’s challenges and says “why not me?”


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