Patient Stories

"Courage is not the roar of victory. It's the soft voice of trying again."

Bradford C. Berk M.D.
Spinal Cord Injury Patient

Bradford Berk's life took a devastating turn. While riding his bicycle, he swerved to avoid an oncoming car. His tire blew and he flew over the handlebars, sustaining a cervical fracture and spinal cord injury.

He spent 12 days in the intensive care unit at the University of Rochester Medical Center, where he serves as CEO and senior vice president of Health Sciences. Still on a ventilator, he was transferred to Kessler Institute to begin more than three months of intense rehabilitation in our Center for Spinal Cord Rehabilitation.

"The most difficult part of my injury was the loss of independence. I had to learn to let people take care of me… how to acknowledge their help. I was always the caregiver and now suddenly I was the one in need of care."

While his medical training may have provided greater insight into what he calls a "terrifying injury," it was his determination that fueled his recovery.

"You have to set goals each day and work as hard as you can to reach them, to go as far as you can go. It can be frustrating because progress always seems too slow."

Less than a year after his accident, Dr. Berk returned to work. "My injury has helped me to better understand what is most important not only in life, but in the delivery of care: quality, safety, compassion and courage. And I was fortunate to have experienced great care across the board."

Learn more about Kessler's Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program.