National Inventors Hall of Fame Induction After Stroke
Fran Ligler almost didn’t get to celebrate the pinnacle of her career as a biochemist and bioengineer. Or continue her longtime hobby of competing in 50-mile endurance races with her horse, Synuous. Or watch her seven grandchildren grow.
Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve 2011, Fran suffered two strokes that left her unable to walk, talk or see straight. “It was absolutely terrifying,” recalled Fran, now 67. “My family came to visit me on New Year’s Eve, not knowing whether I’d survive.”
After the strokes, Fran spent two weeks as an inpatient at Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation, where our specially trained clinicians helped retrain her body and mind little by little – from reading flashcards and sounding out words to holding a pen and walking up steps.
Fran’s recovery continued with six weeks of outpatient therapy, and it took another several months before she could drive or read well again.
“The therapists truly gave me my life back,” said Fran, now a biomedical engineering professor at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after a 30-year career at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. “Everyone who cared for me was so knowledgeable and compassionate.”
Five years after her strokes, Fran was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for her groundbreaking research on optical biosensors that can detect infectious diseases, biological warfare agents, pathogens in food and other dangerous toxins.
“Sometimes I still can’t believe I was able to recover from such a debilitating illness,” Fran added.