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Even as a Quadruple Amputee, Gym Owner Continues to Inspire and Motivate

Hugh Gerlach stands with two members of the AirCare flight team who transported him: flight nurse, Lisa Harris and flight paramedic, Fred Shaffer

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Oct. 17, 2017 – Almost two years ago, on October 25, 2015, Hugh Gerlach found himself in a helicopter, being airlifted to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

He had quickly become critically ill, after contracting a rare bacterial infection while on a fishing trip.

While doctors at Wake Forest Baptist were able to save his life, he ultimately lost both hands, his right leg and half of his left foot.

“I’m just fortunate to be alive after everything I went through,” said Gerlach. “My entire medical and rehabilitation teams at Wake Forest Baptist became like family to me and were instrumental in helping me adjust to my new life.”

Gerlach spent five weeks at Wake Forest Baptist, learning how to perform basic daily activities with prosthetics. This year, Wake Forest Baptist’s Rehabilitation Services is marking 35 years of providing both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation and physical therapy for people recovering from a traumatic injury, debilitating disease or surgery.

“Hugh is truly an inspiration to those of us who have been by his side during his journey,” said Walter S. Davis, M.D., associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Wake Forest Baptist. “His positive outlook on life gives hope and encouragement to many people who are now going through what he faced two years ago.”

Gerlach, who owns two gymnastics academies in southwestern Virginia, is now back at work, playing with his grandchildren and motivating others who are learning to live life with a disability.

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Last Updated: 10-17-2017
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