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Terry P.: Patient of the Month

Terry Persina is a force of nature. Diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) 3 years ago, Terry believes to stay independent, you must be responsible and regimented.

ALS is a progressive neuromuscular disease that often slowly robs the body of its ability to use its upper extremities, walk, speak, swallow, and breathe. An average of 1 to 2 per 100,000 people are diagnosed with ALS every year throughout the world.  "Having been diagnosed with ALS has given me clarity in my life. The knowledge I have learned these past few years has contributed to me remaining active and independent,” adds Terry. 

A former sales forecast manager for CHF Industries, a home textile company, Terry analyzed retail sales data on accounts like Bed Bath & Beyond, Walmart, Target, Kohls, and projected their future sales forecasts. She loved training new members of her team and has been blessed to have worked with some truly remarkable people in her life. 

Today, Terry uses her data analysis skills to monitor and adjust her regimen to keep her body active.  She works with her ALS clinical team at HSS on medications, infusions, and other recommended support programs.  She utilizes land and aquatic physical therapy, yoga, neuro-acupuncture, and a ketogenic diet (to gain weight).  The Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association (ALSA) has been a great resource and support.  They helped Terry make a difference in her own life and the lives of others affected by the disease. 

She is deeply aware of how her body is becoming weaker.  She needs to strengthen her remaining muscles to stay vertical.  “Carol and her team evaluate my strength, balance, function and joint mobility to help ensure that I am walking safely,” adds Terry.  Before COVID, Terry was benefiting from Sutton Place Physical and Aquatic Therapy’s aquatics program. 

 “On land, it’s very apparent what my limitations are. When the pool was closed, during COVID for 7 months, my muscles atrophied. I can’t wait to return to aquatic therapy!” adds Terry.  At home, Terry's exercise program targeted her arms, legs, neck, and trunk muscles, along with functional training for activities of daily living such as maneuvering stairs and standing up from a chair.

“When we learned the pool was reopening, Terry was the first person I wanted to call,” adds Carol Stillman. COVID has genuinely impacted the health of so many people but seeing how the pool helped Terry’s body and mindset is genuinely remarkable. She is fantastic!”

When Terry is not working out in the pool or enjoying time with her family, she stays connected with other ALS patients via phone, text, and emails.  Terry recounted a conversation with a new friend recently diagnosed with ALS.  She didn't want to eat, and she explained to her that she needed the calories, and to be active; sharing what has worked for her.  Terry can not stop herself from helping and encouraging others.

Last July, Terry sponsored a team for the Walk to Defeat ALS Walk. Not only did she walk, but she also raised almost 5K for this vital cause. In her note, she wrote, "I am walking to raise funds for ALSA. To help them continue the important work. To give hope to patients like me.” There is no doubt about it. Terry Persina gives hope to those with ALS:  keep going!

If you would like to support Terry’s ALS team, click here.