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Now I can... follow the path of champions At age 17, Stevelyn Robinson of Winona, Miss., was paralyzed from the neck down in a school bus crash. And just like the late Chucky Mullins—who became a quadriplegic as an Ole Miss football player— Robinson’s motto is: Never quit! He persevered through almost six years of therapy with Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s spinal cord injury team. And now he’s at Mullins’ alma mater, enjoying his dream to earn an Ole Miss degree. “My long-term goal is to have my own business,” he said. Meanwhile, he has much to be proud of already. “I was in the ICU thinking I wouldn’t be able to move at all, and now I can walk with assistance,” he said. “It’s unbelievable.” Nationally recognized for expertise in rehabilitation medicine after a stroke, spinal cord injury, brain injury or amputation.

For more information, visit or call 601-364-3434 or toll-free 1-800-223-6672, ext. 3434.



f I was asked to describe today’s Methodist Rehabilitation Center in a word, that word would be ‘incredible.’ As I think about our organization today, we are as deep in talent, expertise and our ability to care for people as we ever have been. Our expertise and accomplishments in research are incredible.

Our administrative director for research has assembled an incredible research team including an M.D. research scientist who is serving this year as the president of the American Spinal Injury Association. He was also recognized with a President’s Award at the American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine conference. We published another important group of research publications that you will see listed in this magazine. We again took advantage of our affiliation agreement as the University of Mississippi Medical Center assigned their newest clinical researcher with expertise in spinal cord stimulation to work exclusively at our Center for Neuroscience and Neurological Recovery at MRC. Our ability to support our research continues to gain strength and depth. We have raised more dollars for and provide more for research than in recent memory.

Mark Adams

Our medical staff and medical leadership are incredible. We have a new Medical Director, brought in as part of our affiliation agreement with UMMC. He’s a nationally recognized spinal injury specialist who joined us from Cleveland Clinic. He will be implementing an important next part of the UMMC agreement, bringing a physical medicine and rehabilitation residency program to that teaching hospital. Our admitting physicians will be the faculty that drives that residency program. Our medical staff includes admitting physicians with specific experience and expertise in recovery after a spinal cord injury, brain injury, stroke, amputation or other devastating injury or illness. Our clinical staff is incredible. We continue to add to and retain our incredibly experienced rehabilitation nursing, therapy staff and clinical support staff. Many of our clinical staff have additional credentials indicating their advanced training in medical management of physical and cognitive recovery after a life changing illness or injury. Our support staff is incredible. Behind the scenes of patient care at MRC, there is an incredible support staff to keep the facility running and safe, delivering nutritious food, managing financials and promoting the services. Every support services employee knows the mission of MRC and is committed to it. Our clinical programs are incredible. Caring for a large number of patients with spinal cord injuries, strokes, brain injuries, amputations, chronic pain and orthopedic debility allows MRC to develop a team of clinicians and staff with incredible experience and understanding of how to facilitate recovery from such illnesses and injuries. Through our expanded affiliation with UMMC to establish its Neuro Institute, MRC’s programs in spinal cord injury, brain injury and stroke recovery have been further elevated to achieve incredible results. Yes, incredible is an accurate description of Methodist Rehabilitation Center. It captures the essence of what we continue to accomplish in our pursuit to maintain nationally recognized expertise for rehabilitation medicine after a stroke, spinal cord injury, brain injury or amputation.

President and Chief Executive Officer Methodist Rehabilitation Center










In response to the love of God, Methodist Rehabilitation Center is dedicated to the restoration and enhancement of the lives of those we serve. We are committed to excellence and leadership in the delivery of comprehensive services. 4




27 32 36 40 ALSO INSIDE


Publisher Doug Boone


Injuries are overcome and lives are restored at MRC’s community-based outpatient clinics.


MRC’s Quest program helps Meridian policeman Devie Freeman return to the job he loves following a brain injury.

Editor Susan Christensen Art Director Carey Miller Contributing Writers Chris Blount, Susan Christensen, Carey Miller Photography Amy Beckley, Ginny Boydston, Joey Brent, Susan Christensen, Carey Miller, James Patterson, Melanie Thortis, Chris Todd President and Chief Executive Officer Mark A. Adams Methodist Rehabilitation Center Board of Trustees


Therapy at MRC helps avid cyclist Robert Tierce bounce back from a spinal cord injury.


After an infection leads to rarest type of amputation, Nancy Smith perseveres with aid of MRC’s experts.

News briefs Where are they now? Employees of the year Vanquishing vertigo Playtime begins Tiger by the tail Parties with purpose A daily dance Great coach, great friend Have chair, will travel A painless partnership The flip side Advanced rehab Research publications Wilson Research Foundation honorarium

6 9 10 12 14 16 17 18 20 22 25 44 48 49 50

Officers Walter Weems—Chairman of the Board David L. McMillin—Vice Chairman Mike Sturdivant—Treasurer Michael Reddix, M.D.—Secretary Members Fred L. Banks, Jr., Rev. Bert Felder, C. Gerald Garnett, Matthew L. Holleman, III, Tish Hughes, William R. (Randy) James, Sam M. Lane, Virginia Wilson Mounger, William (Bill) A. Ray, E. B. (Bud) Robinson, Jr., Thomas A. Turner, III, Stuart Yablon, M.D., Wirt A. Yerger, III Life Member Dean M. Miller Founders Earl R. Wilson, Frank E. Hart, Sr., Hilton L. Ladner, Jesse L. Wofford, M.D. Methodist Rehabilitation Center provides comprehensive medical rehabilitation programs for people with spinal cord and brain injuries, stroke and other neurological and orthopedic disorders. The 124-bed state-of-theart hospital in Jackson has twice been designated a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Model System site by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research and is also the only hospital in Mississippi twice named one of America’s best by U.S. News & World Report. Methodist Rehabilitation Center 1350 East Woodrow Wilson Jackson, Mississippi 39216 | 800-223-6672 Ways & Means is published annually by the Methodist Rehabilitation Center Public Relations Department.




News Briefs Percy brings rehabilitation medicine expertise to Pain & Spine Center in Flowood Raechel Percy, D.O., has joined Methodist Pain & Spine in Flowood, Miss., as a staff physician. She was most recently a resident physician in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Ky. Percy A summa cum laude graduate of Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich., Percy earned a doctorate in osteopathic medicine at the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine in East Lansing, Mich. Her professional interests include sports and musculoskeletal medicine, amputee rehabilitation, prosthetic restoration and adaptive sports and recreation activities for individuals with disabilities.

Hayes earns national honor for electrodiagnostic therapists Tony Hayes, neurophysiological technologist at Methodist Rehabilitation Center, was recognized as 2017 Tech of the Year by the American Association of Electrodiagnostic Technologists. A graduate of Jackson State University with a degree in biology/pre-medicine, Hayes has worked Hayes at Methodist Rehab for more than 20 years. And his expertise has been particularly valuable to the hospital’s research arm, the Center for Neuroscience and Neurological Recovery. “Over the years, Tony has contributed significantly to our work by conducting high quality research studies,” said CNNR administrative director Dobrivoje Stokic. Hayes, who is also a medical student, has participated in seven peer-reviewed and published research papers, and he’s proudest of helping improve patient care. “It might take 20 years for something from a traditional research lab to show up in a doctor’s office,” he said. “But if we find a better way, we start doing it.”



Meadows named chief nursing officer at MRC Terri L. Meadows of Hazlehurst, Miss., has joined the staff of Methodist Rehabilitation Center as Chief Nursing Officer. Meadows has more than 30 years of experience in the healthcare industry. She was most recently chief nursing officer for Merit Health Madison in Meadows Canton. Meadows has a bachelor of science degree in nursing and a master’s of health science administration from Mississippi College in Clinton, Miss.

Robinson earns CRRN certification Tasha Robinson of Brandon, Miss., recently earned her Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse (CRRN) certification. Robinson works for MRC’s brain injury program. She earned her associate’s degree in nursing from Hinds Community College and her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the Mississippi Univeristy for Women.


Multiple sclerosis patients being sought for study Methodist Outpatient Therapy is recruiting multiple sclerosis patients to be part of a $5.8 million study funded by the Patient-Centered Outcome Research Institute in Washington, D.C. Led by a research team at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the trial will compare the benefits of clinic-based MS therapy to an exercise rehabilitation program delivered via the internet or telephone. Participants must be 18 to 70 years old, diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and willing to take part in a free 12-week yoga/Pilates exercise program at Methodist Rehab’s outpatient clinic in Flowood, Miss. The study, which is also being conducted at clinics in Alabama and Tennessee, is offering up to $380 in compensation to participants. For more information, call 205-704-8248 or email

Tansey brings dual perspective to role of American Spinal Injury Association president Methodist Rehabilitation Center physician-scientist Keith Tansey is now at the helm of North America’s premier organization in the field of spinal cord injury care, education and research. In April, he began a two-year term as president of the American Spinal Injury AsTansey sociation. A neurologist with a Ph.D. in spinal cord neurophysiology, Tansey is a senior scientist for the Center for Neuroscience and Neurological Recovery at Methodist Rehab and also has roles at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center. The first M.D./Ph.D. to lead ASIA, Tansey hopes to bridge the natural divide between lab-based researchers and practicing physicians—all to the benefit of patients. “We can either spin in our own little circles or figure out a way to journey down the path together,” he said.

Methodist Rehab researchers recognized for contributions Methodist Rehabilitation Center senior scientists Art Leis, M.D., and Keith Tansey, M.D./Ph.D., recently won President’s Research Initiative Awards from the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine (AANEM). Leis and Tansey were recognized for the abstract, “Manipulating Chronic Inflammation to Reduce Nociceptive Hyperreflexia and Pain Afferent Sprouting after Neural Injury.” The co-authors are Hyun Joon Lee and Jumi Chung of Jackson, Miss., and Malu Tansey of Atlanta, Ga. Leis was also recognized for the abstract, “Pain as a Manifestation of Voltage-Gated Potassium Channel and N-Type Calcium Channel Autoimmunity.” The abstract was co-authored by Brent Goodman of Scottsdale, Ariz. The awards were presented at AANEM’s annual meeting held in Phoenix, Ariz., in September. Dr. Tansey also co-edited the recently published, Neurological Aspects of Spinal Cord Injury, with Norbert Weidner and Rudger Rupp. The book covers a comprehensive list of topics related to the neurological aspects of diagnosing and treating spinal cord disease. Included are established clinical therapies, as well as novel strategies to rehabilitate, protect and regenerate the spinal cord and nervous system.

Methodist mourns passing of longtime board member Methodist Rehabilitation Center lost a dedicated supporter when long-time board member S. Edward Kossman, Jr. of Cleveland, Miss., died on Aug. 31. Kossman served on the hospital’s Board of Trustees since 1979 and on the Wilson Research FounKossman dation Board since 1991. A partner in the Kossman family’s General Motors dealership, Kossman was heavily involved in his community and gave selflessly of his time, talents and services to MRC. He contributed greatly to the establishment of the Methodist Orthotics & Prosthetics clinic in Cleveland in 2009 and his leadership and wise counsel has meant much to MRC’s success.

Fifth MRC therapist earns top assistive technology certifications Jacob Long of Clinton, Miss., a physical therapist at Methodist Rehabilitation Center, recently received his Assistive Technology Professional (ATP) and Seating and Mobility Specialist certifications from the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology SociLong ety of North America (RESNA). The ATP certification recognizes demonstrated competence in analyzing the needs of consumers with disabilities, assisting in the selection of appropriate assistive technology for consumers’ needs and providing training in the use of the selected devices. The SMS certification recognizes demonstrated competence in seating and mobility assessment, funding resources, implementation of intervention and outcome assessment and follow-up. Long serves patients of the spinal cord injury program at MRC’s main hospital in Jackson, Miss. He received his physical therapy degree from the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Long is the fifth MRC therapist to earn the certifications. He joins Cameron Huff of Jackson, Miss., and Heather Maloney, Christopher McGuffey and Erin Bischofberger, all of Madison, Miss.



News Briefs


Four MRC-sponsored scouts earn their Eagle rank

Troop 401 Scoutmaster Betty Dorsey-Wilson leads the pledge for Eagle Scouts, from left, Jerion Keyes, Brent Price, Deshuntez Williams and Marcello Williams.

Four scouts from Methodist Rehabilitation Center-sponsored Boy Scouts of America Troop 401 have earned their Eagle rank. Brent Price, Deshuntez Williams, Marcello Williams and Jerion Keyes, all of Jackson, Miss., were presented their Eagle at a Court of Honor held at the hospital on Dec. 17. Troop 401 has 16 active scouts and has produced 27 Eagle Scouts to date. “On a yearly basis, you have about 200 or so Eagle Scouts to come out of the Andrew Jackson Council here in central Mississippi,” Assistant Scoutmaster Steve Cooper said. “So if you consider the size of our troop, as well as the fact that our kids come out of south and west Jackson, out of rough neighborhoods, to see four of them earn their Eagle, well that’s just spectacular.” Troop 401 was founded at MRC in 1989 to introduce scouting to boys with disabilities. When current Scoutmaster Betty Dorsey-Wilson took over in 1998, the troop began to include the children of employees. Today, the troop focuses on disadvantaged youth in the Jackson metro area.

Cole named MHA Volunteer of the Year Methodist Rehabilitation Center volunteer Sam Cole of Jackson, Miss., was recently named Volunteer of the Year by the Mississippi Hospital Association. Cole has been volunteering at MRC since 2011, primarily in the MRC Gift Shop. He has given over Cole 1,560 hours of service to the hospital. “Throughout the time I’ve known him, Sam has shown time and time again that he is a positive, motivated leader with amazing attention to detail for the work he does in the MRC Gift Shop,” said MRC Volunteer Director Robby Scucchi.



Houston appointed to Wilson Foundation board Methodist Rehabilitation Center has appointed Katy Houston of Ridgeland, Miss., to the center’s Wilson Research Foundation board. Houston is an active community volunteer and the author of Sweetness Follows, which benefited the Wilson Foundation. The Houston book shares recipes and the story of Houston delivering 62 consecutive weekly treats to MRC patient Sam Lane, Jr. of Jackson, Miss., and family to encourage his recovery from a traumatic brain injury. Houston also led a successful fundraising team for the 2017 Walk & Roll for Research, the Wilson Foundation’s signature event.

MRC rolls out three new patient care software systems Technology has brought a lot of change to the healthcare industry in the past few years. That change can sometimes be a difficult adjustment for employees. So why did Methodist Rehabilitation Center install three new systems in the same year? Answer: To make work easier for our clinicians and staff, but more importantly to improve patient care. With that goal in mind, Methodist chose three systems specifically designed for the environments they serve—MediLINKS in the hospital, Raintree Systems at Methodist Outpatient Therapy and OPIE at Methodist Orthotics & Prosthetics. The systems offer all types of interaction. Through OPIE, orthotics and prosthetics staff members can order prosthetic parts directly from manufacturers or check patient scheduling at multiple clinic sites. Using Raintree, therapists can communicate with other providers, as well as send text messages to patients. And MediLINKS provides a streamlined approach to the complex compliance and documentation needs that can overwhelm hospital staff. Both the OPIE and Raintree systems will give clinicians and front office staff the ability to stay in touch with patients via email for follow-up appointments, equipment warranty work and recalls and new treatment offerings for patients to consider. “We looked at several systems and felt that MediLinks would best meet the needs of the hospital and its regulatory requirements,” said Suzy Gonzales, director of therapy services at MRC. “It’s rehab driven and should help us improve our efficiency and outcomes. Our clinicians are looking forward to improving work flow and making documentation easier.”


What MRC alumni have done since they left the therapy gym by Susan Christensen


Northwest Rankin Elementary teacher Bridget Walker couldn’t wait to return to her students after she spent months recovering from a February 2004 car crash. And she’s still in the classroom some 13 years later, enjoying a profession that she loves. Walker “It’s fun to watch the light bulb come on when you realize the kids do understand something,” she said. A language arts teacher at Northwest Rankin Middle School in Flowood, Miss., at the time of her accident, Walker now teaches fifth grade math and science at Northwest Rankin Elementary. While the switch was “a big thing,” Walker has embraced her new subject matter. She and fellow teacher Cheryl Navarra even teamed up three years ago to begin offering a Camp Invention science camp at Northwest Rankin. A graduate of Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s Quest program, Walker has fond memories of the staff who helped her overcome brain and orthopedic injuries and reclaim her career. “They were lifesavers,” she said. “When I hear of anyone going through rehabilitation, I always think of them.”


Just five weeks after a 2001 tiger attack led to the amputation of her lower right leg, Kellie Griffin stood on one leg as she said her wedding vows to the man who literally snatched her from the jaws of death. Her then boyfriend, Jason, a Griffin paramedic and fellow employee at Kemper Park Zoo in Hattiesburg. Miss., helped keep her alive after the assault. And in the years since, nothing has gotten in the way of the couple’s happily-ever-after. Today, they live in Clinton, Miss., where Griffin is a stayat-home mom to Brock, 13, Hudson, 10, and Lillian, 8, and Jason works as a nurse anesthetist. At her wedding, Griffin had yet to be fitted with a prosthetic leg, so she didn’t know her potential. “I thought if I could just walk to the end of the driveway and back that would be great,” she said. But once Methodist Orthotics & Prosthetics custom tailored a limb to her lifestyle, Griffin’s activity level took off. “I thought, I’m not just going to sit here. I figured down the road I would have kids, and I would want to get out there with them. Now, I think I’ve been doing a great job of walking

and running and chasing kids.” She hopes to get even better. With Methodist O&P prosthetist Taylor Hankins, Griffin recently attended an Össur Running and Mobility Clinic presented by the Challenged Athletes Foundation in Birmingham, Ala. “I really wanted to meet other people who had prosthetics, just to see if they do anything differently,” she said. “I jog and I wanted feedback.” Recently, Griffin ran in a 5-kilometer race to raise funds for her daughter’s school. And while she did the distance using a regular prosthesis, she wouldn’t mind upgrading to a limb designed for dashing. “At the clinic, one of the groups had running legs,” she said. “Next time, I might sneak into that group.”


After Hurricane Katrina hit Mississippi in 2005, Steve Pitzer led a month-long campaign to repair some 5,000 miles of damaged power lines and more than 30,000 broken utility poles for Coast Electric Power Association. Yet he couldn’t remember any of his efforts just nine months later. Pitzer A severe heart attack in May 2006 cut off oxygen to his brain, damaging areas related to memory. So it was with some relief that Pitzer felt a sense of déjà vu as he recently dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Nate on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It was another affirmation of his comeback from what could have been a career-ending injury for the D’Iberville, Miss., electrical engineer. “It was the same routine, and it was like I didn’t miss a thing,” he said. A veteran nurse, Debbie Pitzer, chose Methodist Rehabilitation Center for her husband’s recovery after some fellow Coast residents recommended the hospital’s nationally recognized brain injury program. “It had always been my plan for him to have aggressive neurological rehab as soon as he was medically able,” she said. And within two weeks of arriving at MRC, Pitzer was eating, walking and had begun to make great strides. Pitzer remembers little of his early therapy. But he does recall that he had “a lot of good doctors, good nurses and good people to help me.” After a graduated return to work over six months, Pitzer eventually returned to Coast Electric full-time. Today, he oversees storm recovery in his home turf of Harrison County, and he’s proud of what his team accomplished in the wake of Hurricane Nate. “I got to the office about 5 a.m. and on the way to work I started calling people,” he said. “We had all the key people here ready to work hard all Sunday. And we had all the lights back on by 2 p.m.”





Patty Conerly Support Services


Pat Green

Clinical Services

No one wants to be on the receiving end of a bill collector’s call. But if Patty Conerly was on the line, it might not be so bad. Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s latest Support Services Employee of the Year has a heart for those who find themselves in a pinch financially. “We’ve all had things happen in our lives,” Conerly said. “So when patients call us, we are very compassionate and do everything we can to work with them.” That can mean helping someone apply for Medicaid, deal with insurance issues or seek special funding, such as money set aside for crime victims. “We wear a lot of hats,” Conerly said. “It’s a lot of time on the phone and a lot of paperwork, even in this day of technology.” And since insurance and coding practices are always evolving, a typical day can be challenging. But Business Office Director Renee Morgan said Conerly makes it all look easy. “Patty is very effective, but very personable with patients at the same time,” Morgan said. “And she has a tremendous work ethic. You almost have to tell her to go home.” One reason may be the special closeness that has developed among the business office staff. “We kind of half joke we’re like an extended family, but it’s true,” said Conerly, who has been with the business office for 26 years. “We all support each other and look out for each other.” But Morgan said “the rock” of the department is definitely Conerly. “She’s our MVP. We all say: ‘What will we do when she leaves?’” An exit isn’t likely anytime soon, as Conerly says: “I’ve always loved being with Methodist Rehab. We have great people and a great facility.”



of the


Jeffrey Junior

External Campuses

And she’s “still a little in the clouds” about being named employee of the year. “It was such a shock, but such an honor and so humbling,” she said. “And I don’t think I can take the honor just for myself. I think it should be shared with everybody in the facility because we all have the same goal to take care of our patients.”


Early in her career, licensed practical nurse Pat Green learned two important lessons. One was the value of collaboration. And the other was the need for compassion. “My director of nursing at Methodist Rehabilitation Center stressed teamwork,” she said. “And one of my nursing instructors shared that we should treat patients with empathy and sympathy. I grabbed it, held onto it and applied it to the care I give.” It’s obvious Green has embodied that philosophy during her almost 42 years at Methodist. This is the second time she’s earned Clinical Services Employee of the Year at the hospital. And her current supervisor Valerie Massey said the reason is obvious. “Pat is always willing to jump in and help lend a hand wherever she is needed,” said Massey, MRC’s director of radiology. “She will volunteer to work after hours or stay to make sure her department has full coverage.” Green currently works in radiology, where she is a coordinator for urology services for Methodist’s hospital-based outpatient clinic. She schedules and assists with urology patients for Dr. Clint Collins and nurse practitioner Nichole Owens and also assists with patients undergoing intrathecal baclofen trials to treat spasticity. It’s the latest in a long list of duties she’s done since arriving

“I like what we do and the outcome of what we do. When a patient comes in at a low level and they make tremendous progress—that is rewarding to everybody.” — Pat Green

at Methodist on Jan. 12, 1976. She’s worked with all types of patients, including those suffering from strokes, brain and spinal injuries and arthritis. To each, she offers a level of caring that resonates with patients. “She has an uplifting spirit with all she comes in contact with,” Massey said. “It is a pleasure to work with Pat because she portrays such a positive attitude.” Green’s upbeat nature has come in handy in recent years, as she has had to overcome two strokes. But even as she tackled her own rehabilitation, she knew she’d return to her calling. “Since all of this, I’ve been more determined to let my first prayer of the day be: ‘Thank you,’” Green said. “It’s been a joy to come back not only to my patients, but my coworkers. “Rehab nursing is a whole lot different than nursing in a general hospital setting. You are caring for more than the medical part of the patient. You are treating them spiritually, physically, psychologically, medically and nutritionally.” And for Green, it’s the type nurse she wants to be. “What has kept me here is my passion for the patients,” Green said. “I like what we do and the outcome of what we do. When a patient comes in at a low level and they make tremendous progress—that is rewarding to everybody.”


When Nita Thompson first met Jeffrey Junior, she sensed there was something special about the 22-year-old. “I had some great expectations,” said the supervisor of environmental services at Methodist Specialty Care Center in Flowood. “I felt like Jeffrey was one of those people who would put all he had into the job and do it right.” Almost eight years later, Junior has proven Thompson was

right about his potential. He’s the latest external campus staffer to be honored as External Campuses Employee of the Year. As an Environmental Services Technician II, Junior’s job is to mop, wax and buff the floors for the 60-room residential care facility for people with severe disabilities. “But he often helps out other departments on projects,” said Environmental Services Director Kim Cole. “In fact, he led the team on one of our most successful projects—managing regulated medical wastes. He’s a leader, and his organizational skills are exceptional.” Ditto for his people skills. “All the residents love him,” Thompson said. Since his mom works at a nursing home, Junior said he was used to seeing patients in wheelchairs. “But it’s different here,” he said. “A patient might be operating a wheelchair with his head. And that was shocking and took some getting used to. But now I look at them like they’re just like me.” Many residents have become mentors to Junior, and he says he appreciates their advice as he learns the ropes of parenting his 4-year-old son, Michael. “They tell me what they’ve been through, and they’ve helped me out with certain things. They all inspire me.” Junior said he wasn’t expecting to be named employee of the year. “To be honest, I was kind of shocked,” he said. “But it was fun.” Junior used the same adjective to describe work, which says a lot about his affection for Methodist Specialty Care Center staff. “Everybody is nice and gets along well,” he said. “We all joke and have fun together. It’s like a second home to me.” It’s a home he takes pride in keeping clean. “I like doing the floors and seeing everything come up shiny,” he said. “It’s wonderful working here.”

WANT TO WORK FOR MRC? With recent growth, Methodist Rehabilitation Center has expanded its recruiting efforts. We now offer convenient online job applications, and our Facebook page has a job bank to make our opportunities easily shareable. We’re always looking for the best and brightest nurses, CNAs, therapists and clinicians, and often have opportunities in support areas such as nutrition services, environmental services and physical plant. As our three employees of the year can attest, MRC is a great place to work. Visit to see the latest job listings and to apply online. You can also visit our current listings on Facebook at




. Al and Margaret Barrett Simon are grateful to be back to their regular routine now that Al has recovered from a debilitating vestibular disorder.

Vanquishing vertigo

Targeted therapy puts life back in balance for Jackson professor by Susan Christensen


l and Margaret Barrett Simon begin every day with the same ritual. Al delivers Margaret a cup of coffee while she’s reading the newspaper in bed. But on Aug. 12, 2016, the routine went awry for Al, then a Jackson State University professor, and Margaret, then vice president of the Jackson, Miss., City Council and an eight-term representative for Ward 7. “I went back to the kitchen and everything went whirling around a mile a minute,” Al said. “I said: ‘Help me, help me’ and Margaret came running into the kitchen. She said: ‘What’s the matter?’ And I said: ‘I don’t know.’” Margaret called 911 and an ambulance and fire truck soon arrived at the couple’s Belhaven home in Jackson. “It took three firemen and a medic to get me in the ambulance,” Al said. “And even when I got to the emergency room, things were still spinning around.” Doctors suspected Simon was having a stroke. But when MRI and CAT scans didn’t reveal any brain bleeds or blockages, Al spent a week in the hospital undergoing more tests.



“It took some time to get a clear diagnosis,” said Margaret. “Not a lot of people know about vestibular neuritis.” One exception is Susan Geiger, a physical therapist at Methodist Outpatient Therapy in Flowood, Miss.,. Her special training in vestibular rehabilitation has made her a valuable resource for patients diagnosed with the condition and the doctors who treat them. Geiger said vestibular neuritis occurs when an infection inflames the nerves that send sensory signals from the inner ear to the brain. The result can be vertigo, dizziness and difficulties with balance and vision. After being examined by Dr. Thomas Eby, a professor of otolaryngology and neurology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Al learned he had 100 percent loss of vestibular function in his left ear. Vertigo—a violent spinning sensation—was Al’s primary symptom. But Geiger said the condition can cause less obvious signs, too. “One thing you wouldn’t suspect is confusion or difficulty processing busy environments,” she said. “A lot of noise or visual stimulation can overwhelm the vestibular system.”

“In her very kind way, she didn’t cut me any slack. She’s well trained in what needed to be done to help me overcome my deficits. I’ll always be indebted to her.” — Al Simon

After Al was referred to Geiger for treatment, he underwent testing to objectively measure his abilities. According to the Vestibular Disorders Association, such exams look at how well the legs are sensing balance, how well the sense of vision is used for orientation and how well the inner ear functions in maintaining balance. The results help therapists customize an exercise plan to address specific issues such as dizziness related to head motion or visual stimuli, uncontrolled eye movements or poor balance. A regular in the gym and an avid tennis player, Al had been in good shape before his diagnosis. But he didn’t fare well on a questionnaire that measured the impact of dizziness on his lifestyle. “His score was 56 percent functional impairment, which is pretty significant,” Geiger said. “It was obviously enough to affect his normal daily activities.” He also didn’t do well on the Berg Balance Test, which measured his ability to stand with his eyes closed. “He scored 19 out of 56 and anything less than 42 signifies you are at risk for falls,” Geiger said. Al, who has a doctorate in health and physical education, wanted to return to work. So he was eager to start the ambitious exercise regimen that Geiger had planned for him. “Susan seemed to have an understanding of Al’s ferocious determination,” Margaret said. “I’m a very competitive person,” Al admitted. “I cheat even when I play solitaire. And I made a lot of progress simply because of the way Susan handled me. “In her very kind way, she didn’t cut me any slack. She’s well trained in what needed to be done to help me overcome my deficits. I’ll always be indebted to her.” Al also benefited from family support, particularly having his daughter Ellen Simons move in with the couple for six weeks. “They weren’t going to let me out of the hospital unless she came,” Al said. Fortunately, Al progressed quickly from walker to cane. “Susan kept saying: ‘Dr. Simon, I can’t imagine how far you’ve come,’” he said. To ensure Al continued to progress once therapy was over, Geiger met him at his gym to recommend an ongoing workout routine. By Oct. 3, 2016, he was once again driving himself to work and diving back into his busy schedule. Today, both Al and Margaret are enjoying retirement. But their home life remains much the same. He still brings his wife that morning cup of coffee. But just to be on the safe side, “I don’t fill it up as much,” he said.

Susan Geiger, a physical therapist at Methodist Outpatient Therapy in Flowood, works with Al Simon on exercises designed to improve his balance. Geiger is specially trained to help patients with vestibular disorders.

Al Simon works on strengthening his legs under the guidance of Susan Geiger, a physical therapist at Methodist Outpatient Therapy in Flowood.




Playtime begins

As a MRC patient, spinal cord injury survivor Sancho Johnson gained the independence to open his own business


by Carey Miller

ethodist Rehabilitation Center’s spinal cord inju“I had never been out of bed after my injury until I got to ry support group plans to hold a future meeting Methodist,” Johnson said. “I’ll never forget my first day of therat Playtime, a restaurant/arcade that opened last apy—sitting up made me nauseated, and I threw up. I thought, April in Clinton, Miss. ‘I can’t do this.’” But it’s not just for the fun, food and games. He credits MRC staff like therapy manager and occupaThe group also wants to show support for one of tional therapist Bridgett Pelts with giving him the motivation its most dedicated members. to soldier on. Playtime owner Sancho Johnson, 44, is a spinal cord injury “I was in a lot of pain, and Bridgett used to push me survivor who joined the support group after he was injured in through that pain,” Johnson said. “Even though it hurt and I 2009. would want to stop, she would ask for a little bit more.” “Sancho has been a great resource for us to have for othPelts says she provided the means for Johnson to achieve ers,” said MRC occupational therapist Suzanne Colbert. “He’s his own goals. always been willing to come talk to people and is always so pos“I think whether he knew it or not, he was already motiitive about everything. He’s been a mainstay at the meetings vated because he was ready to get back home and to his life,” for years. If I call him for anything, he’s always willing to help.” Pelts said. “He had an incredibly positive attitude and was very Colbert manages the support group, which meets the third goal-oriented. Whether the task each day was learning to put Tuesday of every month. It is open to all spinal cord injury suron his pants or his shoes, or learning how to transfer to the tub vivors, their families and caregivers. The group provides an open bench or the shower chair, he pushed himself hard. I pushed forum for attendees to share their stories, and, as Johnson has him, but pushed him to problem solve for himself rather than done, a message of hope. giving him the answers. We both knew I wasn’t going home “I’ve seen people go through a lot of setbacks after being inwith him, so we had to get him as independent as possible.” jured,” Johnson said. “But life for everyone has hardships. What After a nearly three-month stay at MRC, Johnson finally I want everyone to know is that it’s important to embrace where got to go home. you are and know that you are beautiful and you can be loved “I saw myself starting to get better, but slowly,” Johnson and you can love in return.” said. “At first I didn’t really know what to make of a lot of what Johnson was a lieutenant in the Coast Guard on the isI was learning at MRC, but when I got home it all started to land of Saint Thomas in the Caribbean at the time of his injury. make sense. I had learned how to do things for myself.” While on vacation on the nearby island of Dominica, he seMeanwhile, Johnson continued his therapy with weekly verely hurt his back and right shoulder. sessions at MRC’s Outpatient Therapy He was initially airlifted to an acute care facility in Flowood, Miss. hospital in Miami, over 900 miles from “I just fell in love with my therapists his home of Jackson. out there,” Johnson said. “I didn’t really Because of his military status, JohnThe feeling was mutual. son said he was at first told he would “Sancho was always such a good know what to have to go to rehab in either Denver or spirit,” said Colbert, who served as his make of a lot Atlanta. occupational therapist. “Even with all he But he knew that Methodist Rehahad going on, he was always upbeat and of what I was bilitation Center was a hometown hoswanted to work hard and learn anything learning at MRC, pital that specializes in spinal cord injury he could to take care of himself. We recare. So he pushed for a transfer there. ally worked on his right arm, to get him but when I got “Methodist Rehab wasn’t initialas independent as we could with that home it all started ly on the list as an option. But when I injury.” told them I needed to be close to family “Suzanne was really tough on me, to make sense. I and friends, they worked it out for me even more so than Bridgett,” Johnson had learned how because it was ideal for my situation,” he said. “But we got to become really good said. friends, and when they decided to start to do things for His injuries left Johnson with limthe support group, I was all for it, to help myself.” ited use of his right hand and reliant on in any way I could.” a wheelchair. And when he got to MRC, Johnson says he knows what it’s like — Sancho he found the hard work of rehab dauntto go through a period of uncertainty Johnson ing. after returning home from the hospital.



After regaining his independence through inpatient and outpatient therapy at Methodist Rehabilitation Center, spinal cord injury survivor Sancho Johnson became an entrepreneur. He opened Playtime, a family-friendly restaurant and arcade located in Clinton, Miss., in April 2016.

“At first I played a lot of Xbox, but then I got hooked on watching HGTV and home repair shows,” he said. “So I thought about getting into rental properties. I started off buying foreclosed properties, rehabbing them, and turning them into rentals.” Opening Playtime was inspired by Johnson’s life as a new dad and his desire to bring an establishment similar to popular chains like Dave & Buster’s to the metro area. “I got married in 2012, and my wife already had two kids,” he said. “I realized there wasn’t a lot for family entertainment— of course, before then I never really had to account for that, it was just me! “We thought about starting a business together that would be a good opportunity for family entertainment. That was our original concept. But then we started to think about how there

wasn’t a lot for adults to do either—so I thought, why not cater to both?” Playtime features arcade games like skee ball and air hockey and classics like Pac-Man, among others. The restaurant has a full menu with daily specials, and serves beer and wine for the adults. “I always felt like Sancho would find a niche in something he really enjoyed, and I know that one thing for sure is making other people happy,” Colbert said. “I think that opening Playtime was a great route for him to decide to go.” “Through it all I’ve learned that it all begins mentally,” Johnson said. “Before you can do anything physically, you have to accept where you are. Then you have to ask yourself what you’re going to do about it. You can either let your disability define you, or you define your disability. I choose the latter.”

MRC’s spinal cord injury support group meetings are held on the third Tuesday of each month at 5 p.m. The support group is open to all spinal cord injury survivors, their families and caregivers. For more information, call Suzanne Colbert at 601-936-8889.




Tiger by the tail

Dr. Vernon Lin focuses his Type A intensity on bringing more physical medicine and rehab doctors to Mississippi by Susan Christensen


r. Vernon Lin is 6 feet 3 inches tall and has a resume 21 pages long. But it’s his Type A intensity that got the attention of Dr. Louis Harkey, chairman of the neurosurgery department at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in Jackson. Harkey recently hired Lin as chief of the new Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) at UMMC. “And we found out we have a tiger by the tail,” Harkey said. “He is incredibly aggressive. He visited several times and made plans well before he set foot on campus as an employee.” There were clues, of course, to Lin’s dynamic nature. In addition to his medical degree, he has a bachelor’s in biochemistry, a master’s in mechanical engineering and a doctorate in biomedical engineering—all earned after he immigrated to America from Taipei, Taiwan at the age of 15. “I was kind of messy in my learning,” Lin concedes with a smile. “But I can’t say I’ve had one class that was a waste of time. I’ve been able to apply everything I’ve learned.” His versatility will be of value as he pairs his UMMC job with leading the medical team at Methodist Rehabilitation Center, where he serves the private non-profit hospital as medical director. Ever since signing an affiliation agreement with UMMC in 2014, the two hospitals have collaborated on neuroscience research, clinical care and education. And Lin believes the united effort is on the cusp of creating “a measurable effect on people with disability in the state of Mississippi.” “The potential is there for a physical medicine and rehabilitation department that will interact with health care systems

Dr. Vernon Lin

within and outside of Mississippi and be a center of excellence,” Lin said. That’s a major goal of the UMMC/ MRC partnership, and Harkey said there are two basic criteria for PM&R to advance from division to department. “No. 1, the clinical enterprise will need to be financially viable, meaning faculty members will have to be productive and have patients,” Harkey said. “No. 2 is the department will have accreditation for a residency program approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education for physical medicine and rehabilitation.” True to his go-getter nature, Lin has a “very aggressive timeline” in place to gain accreditation, Harkey said. “The best case scenario is we would accept PM&R residents by July 2018,” Harkey said. “The intent is to have two residents each year of a three or four-

year program.” The residents will be trained by the PM&R staffs that see patients at UMMC and MRC. And Lin is happy to be among the front-line physicians. He said his love for trouble-shooting complicated problems is what drew him to PM&R, a specialty that focuses on conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons. “Initially, I was always bent on internal medicine,” he said. “But in my fourth year of medical school, we had a required rotation in PM&R, and it had everything I wanted. There were enough scientific rigors, and I could apply engineering principles. Best of all, it’s tailored to taking care of people with grave disabilities—not little problems, big problems.” Lin could relate because he knows what it’s like to have your world suddenly upended. When the political climate changed in Taiwan in the ‘70s, Lin, along with his physician fa-

“The potential is there for a physical medicine and rehabilitation department that will interact with health care systems within and outside of Mississippi and be a center of excellence.” — Dr. Vernon Lin



SPECIALTY CARE CENTER ther, public health nurse mother, brother and sister abruptly moved to Sacramento, Calif. And the transition could not have been easy. “I knew just a little bit of English,” he said. But it wasn’t long before Lin found a place on his high school’s basketball court. “I played varsity as a freshman,” he said. “And I excelled in math and science, so I was automatically in the academic crowd.” Although he planned to attend medical school from the age of 10, Lin first accepted a scholarship to study biomedical engineering at Boston University. “But I got a little homesick and came back to the University of California Davis and changed my major to biochemistry,” he said. Lin said while he found the learning of biochemistry and genetics was rather exciting, the laboratory work that led to these advances was tedious, and was also unforgiving. “If you make one mistake in the lab, your results are no good,” he said. So he switched to mechanical engineering and managed to complete a master’s degree in just five quarters. Medical school still beckoned, however, and he graduated from the UC Davis School of Medicine in 1989. Eight years later, he earned a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. Today, his hefty bio reveals a man who thrives on diverse interests, including research, teaching and health care administration. Most recently, he was a Professor of Medicine in the Department of PM&R at the Cleveland Clinic Learner College of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. The Cleveland Clinic recently ranked No. 2 among U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals. But if Lin has any misgivings about leaving the prestigious center, it doesn’t show. “What really brought me to Mississippi is there is no physical medicine and rehabilitation academic program, and I think it’s wonderful UMMC wants to start a program,” he said. “Now, the entire state might have 20 PM&R Doctors. And by the time I retire, there might be four or five times that to meet the growing needs of people with disabilities. “The sky is the limit depending on how much we want to invest in our own future and our ability to care for complex cases.”

Methodist Specialty Care Center held a football tailgating party in September. Front row, left to right, are residents Meryle Claypool, Tim Crocker, John Harvey and Rickey Starks. Back row are nursing assistant Leslie Williams Sanders, recreational therapist Amy Dempsey, environmental services technician Toney Vaughn and respiratory therapist Carolyn Williams.

Parties with purpose

Monthly activities help keep MSCC residents active and spirits high


by Carey Miller

t a long-term care facility like Methodist Specialty Care Center, healthcare isn’t the only piece of the puzzle. “Our residents receive essential healthcare, but it’s the therapeutic recreation department that gives them an opportunity to create a new life,” said MSCC director Larry McKnight. “Our programs are designed to facilitate patients’ physical and emotional well-being by providing activities that help improve cognitive, social and motor functioning.” For MSCC residents, many of whom are young and beginning to adjust to living life with a severe injury or illness, activities are what keep depression at bay. “When the everyday tasks of life no longer take up the bulk of the day, it’s imperative to fill the time with something else constructive,” McKnight said. “Residents who sit in their rooms all day tend to dwell on the negative.” So in addition to MSCC’s regular therapeutic recreation offerings, the center has begun throwing monthly themed parties to create a more social atmosphere for the residents. So far, shindigs like a summer barbecue with a live DJ, a fall football tailgating party and a Halloween bash have been a hit with residents. Tim Hoskins got to indulge in his love of blues music by helping the DJ select tunes for the barbecue. “I used to go to a lot of blues shows. I just love the music,” Hoskins said. “So I put together a list of music and the DJ played it just like I sent it to him. I enjoyed it, and I know everybody else enjoyed it, too. Everybody likes The Electric Slide.” And McKnight says the parties are beneficial for the staff as well. “It gives an opportunity for residents and staff to interact on a more personal level,” he said. “They can get to know them better than they can as clinicians. It’s an opportunity to build friendships and relax.”




Martez Baldwin practices with the Jackson State University dance ensemble, as they prepare for their first performance of the school year.

A daily dance

Quest Program provides JSU student the tools for coping with lupus after surviving a stroke due to the autoimmune disease


he members of Jackson State University’s dance ensemble give each other nicknames to reflect who they are and what they’ve been through. They call Martez Baldwin “Indestructibly Paid.” “They say I’m indestructible because I’m not letting anything stop me,” Baldwin said. “And the paid part, they said that’s because I’ve paid my dues.” Baldwin, 27, has lived most of his adult life under the shadow of lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease that attacks healthy cells in the body. “What’s so hard about lupus is its unpredictability,” said Cecile Morvan, a clinical psychologist at Methodist Rehabilitation Center. “One thing that really causes it to flare up is stress. But how do you avoid stress, especially in college?” Morvan served as Baldwin’s primary therapist at MRC’s Quest program. The program helps people make a successful return to work, school or home life following a brain or spinal cord injury. Baldwin entered the program in February after suffering a stroke due to lupus. “Martez struck me as someone who is very determined, who will persevere,” Morvan said. “It’s got to be pretty scary to live with that sort of specter, that at any time you can have a flare.” Baldwin did his best to manage his disease, knowing that lupus could bring his college grind to a halt at any time. It did just that right after Christmas last year. “I really don’t remember what happened,” he said. “All I remember is on Dec. 31 we went to church for the Watch Night



by Carey Miller service. The next thing I remember is I’m in the hospital seven days later on Jan. 8.” The day after the church service, Baldwin was acting erratically and unresponsive to questions. His roommate and best friend Mary Yancy called his mother, and they took him to the hospital. The hectic nature of the holidays had caused a lupus flare-up, which in turn led to Baldwin suffering an ischemic stroke. This type of stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is restricted, depriving it of oxygen. “I knew I was getting sick, I had felt myself getting weak,” Baldwin said. “I was always sleepy, which is a sign I’m going into a flare. But it was the holidays, so I just wasn’t thinking about it.” Baldwin was first diagnosed with lupus in 2009. At that time, he was living in North Carolina, had just finished high school, and was excited to start college at nearby Winston-Salem State University. “Two weeks before school started, my older sister took me to an amusement park,” Baldwin said. “We enjoyed ourselves, but later that day I noticed I had red bumps on my arms. We thought maybe we stayed in the sun too long.” The next day, after developing a fever, Baldwin went to the ER. Probably a virus, they said, and sent him home. A week later, he was feeling worse, so he went back. A bad case of the flu, they said. “Then the week school was supposed to start, I was too sick to go and I had started losing weight,” Baldwin said. “We knew something wasn’t right, so they finally admitted me into the

“They finally admitted me into the hospital. After about three days there, the doctor came in and told me I had lupus. And my first reaction was, ‘what is lupus?’” — Martez Baldwin

hospital. After about three days there, the doctor came in and told me I had lupus. And my first reaction was, ‘what is lupus?’” Lupus affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans, according to the Lupus Foundation of America. It mainly affects women of childbearing age, and is two to three times more prevalent in women of color. The foundation estimates 1 in 537 young black women are affected. Though much rarer, men can also develop the disease around early adulthood, as Baldwin did. Because the disease is an autoimmune disorder, its symptoms are all over the map, ranging from joint pain to hair loss to more serious issues like cardiovascular disease and stroke. A recent study by the Lupus Center at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital found evidence that people with lupus are two to three times more at risk for stroke and heart disease. “Basically your healthy cells are fighting themselves,” Baldwin said. “I thought maybe I had jinxed myself because I always told people I had a strong immune system.” When Baldwin transferred to MRC’s inpatient rehab in late January, he began to regain the strength the stroke had taken from him. “In therapy, we mainly worked on my left side,” he said. “My strength was gone—I couldn’t even pick up a half-gallon of milk without my hand shaking. It felt so incredibly heavy for some reason.” After a week of inpatient therapy, Martez was referred to the Quest program so he could achieve his goal of getting back to school and his job at the campus bookstore. “I was supposed to graduate this coming December. But since I missed all of January, that wasn’t going to happen,” Baldwin said. “But when I came to Quest, they told me they would get me back to school and back to working.” “Martez is very friendly and sociable, so he was really looking forward to getting back to school and being back with his friends,” Morvan said. Morvan worked with Baldwin to develop mechanisms for coping with his disease, as well as stress management techniques to prevent future flares. “Martez has really managed to keep a positive attitude in light of what he’s been through,” Morvan said. Baldwin also continued to work on regaining his strength with physical therapist Patricia Oyarce. “The main thing I focused on with Martez was general endurance and conditioning,” Oyarce said. “I knew that he wanted to go back to the dance ensemble, so I focused on making that possible.

Martez Baldwin is back to his part-time job at the Jackson State University bookstore.

“We did a lot of high-level balance and conditioning activities. I taught him interval training to help build cardiovascular conditioning—meaning you do bursts of high-intensity exercises for two to four minutes and then you do a lower intensity, and then you come back.” Baldwin at first wasn’t sure how the therapies would get him back into dancing shape. “At first I was like, what is this for? But as time went on, I could see where she was going with it,” Baldwin said. Now back at JSU, Baldwin is pursuing his life plan that was inspired by a certain famous TV moderator. “I want to be a crime scene investigator, then after I have a few years of that under my belt, I want to go to law school,” Baldwin said. “Then I want to work as a lawyer and eventually retire as a judge. That’s my plan. It’s always been my plan since I was like, 12. I can thank Judge Judy for that.” “He says he never misses Judge Judy, she’s his favorite,” Morvan said. He’s also back to work at the campus bookstore, where his outgoing personality charms both customers and coworkers. “Martez is a great person and a great worker, and he was sorely missed when he got sick,” said JauJuana Watts, operations manager at the JSU bookstore. “Now that he’s back and we are all conscious of his illness, we try not to overexert him. So far he’s able to do a lot.” He’s also back to rehearsing with the JSU Dance Ensemble, which had its first performance of the school year in September. “I think Martez is very aware of what he has to do and how he has to be very careful to manage his condition,” Morvan said.“But he’s not going to let that stop him from reaching his goals.”




Great coach, great friend

For nearly four decades, therapeutic recreation director Ginny Boydston has enriched the lives of aspiring athletes


ennis great Arthur Ashe said: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” That quote is displayed outside Ginny Boydston’s office at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson, Miss. And it’s a philosophy she’s followed since arriving at the Jackson hospital almost 40 years ago. She started with a blank slate. Used every resource she could find. And accomplished what few might have imagined in Mississippi—the creation of a nationally recognized adaptive sports program at MRC. Over the years, the Jackson resident has introduced people with physical disabilities to water and snow skiing, boccia ball, quad rugby, sled hockey, handcycling, triathloning, rock climbing, scuba diving, hunting, fishing and wheelchair fencing, racing, tennis, soccer, basketball and softball. And she just added para powerlifting and marksmanship shooting to the list. Recently named a Healthcare Hero by the Mississippi Business Journal, Boydston is quick to share the credit with MRC and other supporters. But fans say she’s the driving force behind the program’s success. “She’ll say it’s just her job, but you can tell through her actions it means more than that,” said Joey Brinson of Florence, Miss., a two-time Paralympic wheelchair fencer who got his start at MRC. “She sits and watches us get credit for what we do, but she’s the one who should be recognized. Without her, a lot of people like me wouldn’t be doing what we do.” “There’s no telling how many lives she has enriched and gotten back into the community,” said John Berret of Madison, Miss., a national boccia ball champion. “Sports gets you out, and getting out helps you get better as far as adapting to your disability. Ginny lets everyone do what they can, but she pushes you to do it yourself and be independent.”



by Susan Christensen Certainly she’s a role model for self-sufficiency. At age 18, the New York native had the chutzpah to move more than 1,000 miles away from family and friends for college at the Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, Miss. “I was looking for a smaller school,” Boydston said. “And my high school Spanish teacher from Columbus said I should try Mississippi and see what the South is all about. The adventurer and traveler I am, I came down and spent some time with her. We looked all around, and she fed me southern food and it was a marriage made in heaven. I fell in love with the people, the cuisine and the humidity.” Boydston enrolled at her teacher’s alma mater to study physical education. But it was time spent volunteering with some special needs students that turned her toward a career in therapeutic recreation. “I fell in love with it,” she said. “I found myself giving and receiving.” After graduating from MUW, she earned a master’s degree in therapeutic recreation at what is now Memphis University. As she sent out resumes, her goal was to get a recreational therapy position somewhere in the south. Meanwhile, she

“There’s no telling how many lives she has enriched and gotten back into the community. Sports gets you out, and getting out helps you get better as far as adapting to your disability.” — John Berret

took a post at a suit manufacturing plant in Tupelo, Miss., where she definitely impressed the top brass. “They offered me a promotion,” she said. “But when I got the call from Methodist, I said yes, yes, yes. I was so excited.” Boydston spent her first years at MRC working in the therapy gym with patients who had arthritis or a stroke, brain or spinal cord injury. “Wheelchair racing was the first sport I attempted to coach,” she said. “The MRC Ladies Auxiliary raised the money for my first racing wheelchair. I had to learn the equipment and teach patients how to use it correctly.” An early adopter of the sport, Wiley Clark of Moss Point, Miss., said he got involved to enjoy recreational activities with his children. “I just got into it because my kids were getting old enough to be riding bicycles, and I wanted to be able to play with them,” Clark said. “I guess it kind of snowballed from there.” A quadriplegic, Clark became a three-time Paralympian in wheelchair racing. And he was just the first of Boydston’s recruits to compete in the Olympic-style competition for the physically disabled. Brinson and Ryan Estep of Florence were on the U.S. Wheelchair Fencing Team in 2012. And Brinson was part of the U.S. crew again in 2016. Boydston also made the trip to the London and Rio de Janeiro Paralympics as team manager of the U.S. Wheelchair Fencing Team. And she counts the experience, as “a career high.” “It went beyond anything I could imagine,” she said. “I always wanted the opportunity to be part of the Paralympics, but never did I think it would be in the capacity I am in today.” As much as Boydston enjoys her role at international competitions, she’s not one to focus all her efforts on elite athletes. She’s just as happy to introduce sports to newbies like DeJuan Surrell of Jackson.

Photos, clockwise from top left: Ginny Boydston, right, accepts a Healthcare Hero award from Tami Jones, associate publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. Boydston shares some coaching strategy with quad rugby players, from left, Jim Chaney, John Adam Long, DeJuan Surrell and Will Lamkin. Native New Yorker Boydston shares her love of snow skiing with Chaney at the Breckinridge Outdoor Education Center in Colorado. From left, Ryan Estep, Shaquille Vance, Boydston and Joey Brinson take a picture for posterity at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. Boydston shares a celebratory moment with gold medal boccia ball players, from left, Surrell and John Berret.

Growing up with cerebral palsy, Surrell never had the chance to play sports until he joined MRC’s quad rugby team. Now, he’s also a wheelchair fencer and recently shared the national spotlight with Berret as half of MRC’s award-winning boccia ball team. “She definitely taught me a lot of sports and it has meant a lot,” Surrell said. Randy Lavender of Tupelo is another who became an athlete after meeting Boydston. “I didn’t get into sports until after my car accident,” he said. “I was not athletic because I worked in grocery stores starting when I was 13 years old.” But after Boydston got Lavender interested in wheelchair racing in 1990, he’s been a willing participant in most of her programs—even ballet.

“I didn’t want to be laughed at,” he said. “But most anything she comes up with, I’m glad to experiment with it. She’s not only a great coach, but a great friend.” And there’s nobody better at taking care of business, Brinson said. “She makes everything as easy as possible. She handles all the red tape behind the scenes.” On any given day, that might mean hauling equipment to practice sites. Making travel plans for national or international tournaments. Or soliciting grant funding from organizations such as the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, Mississippi Paralysis Association, Challenged Athletes Foundation and the Neilsen Foundation.

At Methodist, Boydston works mainly with spinal cord injury patients. And she says the newly injured are often unreceptive at first. “It takes a period of time for them to realize they can still do whatever they want,” she said. And once they do, Boydston is quick to come up with a game plan. “She’s the type of a person if she doesn’t have the kind of activity someone wants to do, she’ll find it for them,” Brinson said. “Fencing has taken me all over the world, and I was introduced to the sport by a clinic Ginny set up. She’s very good at what she does and you can tell she loves it.” For information on upcoming sports clinics, call 601-364-3566.




From left, former MRC patients Sheila Burnham and Karen Skeen check in at the Special Services desk at the Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport in Jackson. The desk provides assistance for passengers with disabilities.

Have chair, will travel

Former MRC patients say careful planning and some patience cuts down on the hassle of traveling with disabilities


s Sheila Burnham boarded a boat to go scuba diving in Belize, the Madison, Miss., resident could feel her fellow passengers doing double takes. At the time, tourist destinations were hardly the domain of paraplegic wheelchair users. “I was a novelty,” she said. Today, she’s less of a spectacle as she hits the slopes in Colorado or hunts game in the wilds of Africa. Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, more people than ever see the sights from the seat of a wheelchair. But traveling with a disability is still no roll in the park. “It takes a little planning and a lot of patience,” says paraplegic Karen Skeen of Madison, Miss., a research assistant at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson, Miss. “But you can’t let life pass you by just because you’re in a chair.” Skeen said she understands why the newly injured are often nervous about travel. “I think it’s fear of the unknown that bothers most people,” she said. So during regular group meetings with MRC’s spinal cord injury patients, she makes it a point to answer their questions and allay their concerns.



by Susan Christensen “If they can get their hands of information, it makes things a lot better,” she said. “I let them know what’s possible. My wheelchair doesn’t stop me.” It also hasn’t limited paraplegic Joey Brinson of Florence, Miss., a member of Methodist Rehab’s wheelchair fencing squad and a veteran of the London and Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games. As an international competitor for the United States Wheelchair Fencing Team, Brinson has visited about 10 foreign countries. But despite his frequent flyer status, people are still surprised that he travels solo. “They think somebody is supposed to be with you,” he said. “Especially in other countries, they want to know if you’re traveling alone.”

READYING FOR TAKE-OFF The ignorance surrounding wheelchair travel means Brinson, Burnham and Skeen often find themselves educating fellow passengers and transportation staff about the rights of people with disabilities.

“Instead of my family carrying me down to the beach, I could come and go as I pleased. I had so much more freedom.” ­—Johnny McGinn, on using a beach power wheelchair

Federal regulations require U.S. airlines to accommodate passengers with disabilities. And in 2009, the rule was expanded to include foreign flights in and out of the United States. But Burnham said not all airport personnel are familiar with the rules. That’s why she always travels with a copy of the regulations. (Find them at The regulations address a number of issues, such as where wheelchair users will be seated, where their wheelchairs will be stored and what accommodations are available for bathroom breaks. In certain instances, wheelchair users must give 48 hours notice before arriving at the airport and check in one hour in advance. But even when it’s not required, Burnham recommends arriving early and scheduling at least two hours for layovers. “You are the first person on the plane and the last one off,” Burnham said. “And sometimes airport staff is not there with your wheelchair or someone to push you from place to place.” One perk of flying with a wheelchair is you don’t have to wait in the security line, Skeen said. “Of course, they pat you down, but that doesn’t bother me,” she said. Skeen said she does get annoyed when people misunderstand her capabilities. “You can’t reiterate enough that you are in a wheelchair because you cannot walk,” she said. “Sometimes they assume you can jump out of the chair.” Another concern for wheelchair users is the nature of airline accommodations outside the United States. Burnham said on a group dive trip to the Bahamas, “they had a machine lift us one by one onto the airplane.” And Brinson remembers a deplaning “fiasco” in Paris. “We got trapped on a mobile lift about three hours. I think they forgot about us,” he said. While such events are frustrating, Brinson said it’s best to “go with the flow.” “If you get impatient or rude, they put you to the side,” he said. “If you don’t argue with them, it goes better.” When someone is ill-informed on disability rights, Burnham said she confronts them with the facts. “I learned very early that the Department of Transportation has a little yellow booklet for people with disabilities who are traveling by air,” she said. “So I just show them what’s in the yellow book.” Once they’ve boarded, wheelchair users have to rely on narrow aisle chairs to move about. And since accessible toilets are only required for planes with more than one aisle, wheelchair users who can’t walk must devise back-up plans for bathroom breaks. “I take a self-contained catheter kit with me whenever I

travel,” Skeen said. “That way if I’m stuck on the tarmac or the plane is delayed, I can discretely catheterize myself under a blanket. And if it’s a long trip, you can get an in-dwelling catheter.” Packing in general is a strategic process for wheelchair users, and Brinson says: “You never want to check everything on the plane. Stuff I would need if I got stranded is always with me.” Such items include medications, health care supplies and items to trouble-shoot wheelchair breakdowns. “I take two extra inner tubes with me, just in case,” Skeen said. Burnham said her carry-on luggage contains the back and seat of her wheelchair. “They come off, so I don’t want them to be lost,” she said. Mobility equipment can be misplaced or damaged in transit, and it’s often the owners of expensive power wheelchairs who have the most problems. One recent social media post chronicled the experience of a man who had to put his power chair back together with zip ties after baggage handlers “trashed” the machine. When an assistive device is lost, damaged or destroyed on a domestic flight, Department of Transportation regulations say “the criterion for calculating the compensation is the original purchase price of the device.” However, the carrier may make note of any pre-existing defect to the device. That’s why many wheelchair owners take photos of their equipment with airline personnel before boarding flights. Veteran travelers also recommend attaching instructions to



From left, Methodist Rehabilitation Center athletes John Berret, DeJuan Surrell and Joey Brinson visit the Garden of the Gods National Natural Landmark during a wheelchair fencing training trip to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

power wheelchairs or scooters that detail how to disconnect batteries or disassemble the equipment. This is critical if the device must be taken apart to fit into cargo holds. Some owners also put their power chairs in manual mode so they can be pushed, rather than moved via the machine’s easily damaged joystick. Once a plane has landed, request your personal wheelchair be brought to the gate, rather than the baggage area, advises Burnham. That avoids the hassle of depending on airport staff for transport. And as someone who regularly deals with her own luggage, Burnham said you’d be surprised how independent you can be. “I’ve always flown by myself,” Burnham said. “I just hook my luggage to the front of my chair. I’m used to people staring at me.”

ACCESSIBILITY ON LAND AND SEA When it comes to accessibility concerns, Burnham said airports aren’t the only place where the needs of wheelchairs users can be overlooked. Burnham said hotel accommodations aren’t always as advertised. “Before I check in I say, ‘Give me a key,’ and I check the room. The controls for the air conditioning are never where they should be or the lip on a shower can keep you from getting in.” To avoid such issues, Skeen does extensive research before reserving a room. “It’s best to speak with a person at the hotel, not the main travel reservation line when you’re making plans,” Skeen said. “You can get them to describe the room and even measure the width of the door. You can also find out if they have a roll-in shower or if you’ll need a shower chair for your room.” Skeen also does her homework while booking ground transportation. “You definitely have to plan ahead to arrange



for a car or van rental that’s accessible,” she said. “But just about all major cities have rentals that hand controls can be added to.” As for cruise travel, Burnham said most ships have already addressed the concerns of most wheelchair users. “They do disability better than the airlines,” she said. One exception is the accessibility of the small boats that ferry passengers from ship to shore for excursions. Many don’t accommodate wheelchairs. Beachfront venues often can be off-limits, too, as most wheelchair tires can’t get traction on sand. But some coastal communities have installed special surfaces for wheelchair traffic or begun renting beach-ready mobility devices. And there’s even a new water park in San Antonio specifically designed for people with disabilities. As a result of such advances, Skeen said she was able to accompany her family to Pensacola just four months after she took a paralyzing tumble during a Mexican vacation. She hasn’t missed a beach outing since. “It’s so important to be with friends and family,” she said. While Skeen used a manual wheelchair that required a companion to do the pushing, Johnny McGinn of Jackson, Miss., said he was recently able to rent a beach-ready power wheelchair in Destin, Fla. “Instead of my family carrying me down to the beach, I could come and go as I pleased,” McGinn said. “I even played cornhole. Plus, I went about a mile and half to the grocery store to pick up things. I had so much more freedom.” Burnham had the same feeling of independence during her first travel adventure post-injury, and she said the experience was empowering. “When I got back home from Belize, I felt like my rehab was over,” she said. “I felt like I could do anything I set my mind to within reason.”


A painless partnership

Pain & Spine Center docs Philip Blount and Edwin Dodd collaborate to ensure best possible outcome for patients by Carey Miller


ubert Cliburn of Pearl, Miss., didn’t waste any words when asked what the physicians at Methodist Pain & Spine Center did for him. “They fixed me right up,”

he said. At 81 years old, Cliburn is semi-retired, but still works part-time at Avis Rental Car. When pain started to interfere with his job, he sought relief by visiting Dr. Philip Blount, a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician at the center. “I was having knee problems and back problems,” Cliburn said. “Dr. Blount took care of my knees, then he sent me over to Dr. Dodd for my back. So I’m still working.” Blount guides care at the center, often referring patients to Dr. Edwin Dodd, an interventional pain management specialist whose practice focuses on back and neck pain. “Dr. Dodd is great with patients, he’s high energy and he’s very kind,” Blount said. “His skill set is very broad and complements mine well.” Blount says this allows Methodist Pain & Spine Center to offer non-surgical, non-narcotic solutions to most every type of pain. “My practice’s expertise is in musculoskeletal nerves,” Blount said. “But when we identify nerves in the spine being the problem, we have Dr. Dodd right here in building. So we can talk, see patients together, and I can share with him my findings and recommendations. Then he can perform his skills right across the hall there.” Cliburn’s issues required treatment from both physicians. “We suspected a pinched nerve in the back going down his leg as part of Mr. Cliburn’s problem,” Blount said. “We also suspected his knee joints. We have non-surgical management for both those issues, and for an 81-year-old that

Dr. Philip Blount and Dr. Edwin Dodd

is definitely good news.” “Our collaborative effort allowed us to provide Mr. Cliburn treatment aimed directly at the source of his pain,” Dodd said. Blount says that he first performs a clinical assessment to pinpoint the source of a patient’s pain. “For patients over 65, we like to be extremely thorough,” Blount said. “We perform a history with emphasis on home function and safety. We do imaging to rule out any more severe problems. Fortunately for Mr. Cliburn, we found a very common situation of back arthritis irritating the nerves going down his legs. We confirmed that with electrodiagnostic tests, which I perform here at the clinic.” “Dr. Blount’s findings are really what identified the source of this,” Dodd said. “That information made it easy for me to perform targeted injections into that area in his lower back.” Blount also employed injections to relieve Cliburn’s knee arthritis. “One option for knee problems is total knee replacement, but most pa-

tients would prefer to try something easier and simpler than that,” Blount said. “We like to avoid potent medications that can cause side effects in the elderly, so we elected to do safe viscosupplementation injections to manage his pain.” Viscosupplementation is a non-steroid medication that helps cushion the knees to alleviate knee pain. It’s given with three injections spread out a week apart. “Mr. Cliburn did very well,” Blount said. “He’s now more functional and able to remain active as a result, without any surgery or being placed on any longterm medication.” “With our collaboration, we can keep about 60 percent of our patients out of the operating room, which to me is a wonderful thing,” Dodd said. “Dr. Blount is a very caring physician. He goes that extra mile for his patients to decide where the pain is coming from, then getting the right thing done for them.” Cliburn agrees. “Dr. Blount has got a good bedside manner and he’s easy to talk to,” he said.



Now I can... feast on my favorites Happiness is a hefty stack of sprinkle-laden donuts. Take it from Taylor Brown, who has known the sorrow of a severely limited diet since she was a baby. After an infection damaged the bones and joints in her jaw, Taylor got meals through a feeding tube and learned to talk through clenched teeth. A series of surgeries at the University of Mississippi Medical Center put her mouth back in motion at age 6. And with the help of specialized therapies at Methodist Outpatient Therapy in Flowood, Miss., Taylor is now savoring all her favorite foods—from Krystals to Krispy Kremes. “It was a blessing,” said her mother, Tamika Winters, of the treatment at MRC. “Without it, I don’t think she would have gotten so far.” Nationally recognized for expertise in rehabilitation medicine after a stroke, spinal cord injury, brain injury or amputation.

For more information, visit or call 601-364-3434 or toll-free 1-800-223-6672, ext. 3434.



THE HOSPITAL Injuries are overcome and lives restored at Methodist Rehab’s community-based clinics by Susan Christensen


eorge Atchley of Ridgeland, Miss., is not the kind of guy who rushes into surgery. He’s lived with a bum knee since he woke up 10 years ago with a burning sensation in the joint. “The next morning it was completely numb, and it has been completely numb ever since,” said the retired planetarium director for Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. Atchley might still be ignoring the problem, if not for some pain-related sleep deprivation. “It started hurting deep down inside, and it was keeping me up,” he said.

“When you can’t sleep, everybody tells you that you need to see the doctor. I was like a bear in the morning.” Atchley underwent laparoscopic surgery for a meniscus tear. And when his surgeon prescribed therapy, Atchley had the referral sent to the new Methodist Outpatient Therapy in Ridgeland. “My wife had already been going here for neurological therapy, and I liked the people,” he said. “It seemed like a modern facility with all the trimmings.” Opened in June in Ridgeland’s Olde Towne neighborhood, the clinic is the 12th addition to Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s extensive network of outpatient services. Today, Methodist’s in-

fluence stretches north to Oxford, Miss., south to Hattiesburg, Miss., west to Monroe, La. and east to Meridian, Miss. Included in the mix are Methodist’s hospital-based outpatient clinic in Jackson, Miss., Methodist Pain & Spine in Flowood, Miss., Methodist Outpatient Therapy in Flowood and Ridgeland, Quest community reintegration program in Ridgeland, the Assistive Technology Clinic in Flowood and Methodist Orthotics & Prosthetics clinics in Cleveland, Miss., Flowood, Hattiesburg, Meridian, Oxford and Monroe. “After Methodist Rehab opened in 1975, we realized the recovery of our patients shouldn’t be limited to what they




could accomplish during an inpatient stay,” said Doug Boone, vice president of business development and community relations at Methodist. “So we begin looking for ways to provide services in the communities where our patients live.” Atchley resides 10 minutes from the Ridgeland clinic. And as a close neighbor, he admires how Methodist fashioned the building to fit the surroundings. “With its big front yard and oak trees, it has a lot of curb appeal,” he said. But he believes the clinic’s best asset is experienced staff like physical therapist Lori Towery. “You walk into the place and you feel like they’re going to twist your joints,” he joked. “But she took personal interest in me and what was going on. She was friendly and kind, but also direct about getting down to business. When you get with someone like that, it makes you feel confident. They have a path for you, and as long as you stay on that path, you’re safe.” Patients like Atchley often experience a number of MRC’s specialized therapies, from the metro area’s only AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmills to SwimEx resistance swimming pools equipped with variable speed current and integrated motorized treadmill. But whatever the treatment, the goal is to get patients back to the activities they love. And it’s a mission shared by all of Methodist’s outpatient clinics.

“I FEEL LIKE A NORMAL PERSON” When Oxford Orthotics & Prosthetics fit Michael Ragan of Batesville, Miss., with custom-designed braces, it was a life-changing experience for the pastor at Evening Time Lighthouse Church in Courtland, Miss. “I wish I had done it years ago,” he said. Now, he can walk faster and



straighter. Climb stairs. Play basketball. Stand up and strum his guitar. And preach without holding onto the pulpit. “He’s like our poster person,” says Oxford clinic manager Shannon Aiken. “He says all the things we hope to hear people say. Now that we’ve given him stability, he can do more things.” Ragan is particularly happy that he can be an outdoorsman again. “Before, I wouldn’t go fishing on a bank because I’d fall and have to crawl up the rocks,” Ragan said. “And when I’d go hunting, I would fall in the woods— sometimes with a gun in my hand. I wouldn’t tell anybody because they’d say you don’t need to go hunting. “Now, I’m a 100 percent better. I feel like a normal person. And I didn’t know how that felt.” Ragan was about 18 when he began suffering the more crippling effects of Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) Disease. Physicians Jean-Martin Charcot, Pierre Marie and Howard Henry Tooth first described the inherited disease in 1886, but it’s still not well-known. CMT damages peripheral nerves, which relay the signals that initiate movement and transmit sensation. This leads to weakness and numbness in the extremities, typically impacting the feet first. Foot drop—an inability to hold the foot horizontal—is a classic sign of CMT. Other symptoms include muscle wasting, stiffened joints and difficulties with balance. Ragan made do as best he could growing up and for years managed to work at a machine shop. But when the disease began affecting his hands, “I couldn’t even hold a screw,” Ragan said. A neurologist finally pinpointed the source of Ragan’s problems. And when the physician referred Ragan to MRC, “I came the same day,” said the father of three. “If it was going to be something to help me, I wanted to get it done.”

To address Ragan’s concerns, Aiken custom-designed a pair of plastic AFOs (ankle-foot orthoses). They support and properly align his lower legs and give him more stability. Aiken said it takes about two weeks to produce braces, but making sure they meet expectations is an ongoing process. A bit of tweaking is often in order to get just the right fit and function. But Ragan’s filled the bill from the start. “It was nice almost immediately,” Ragan said. “I’ve been able to do the best hunting I’ve done in 20 years.”

“I FEEL LIKE I’VE NEVER BEEN INJURED” While many come to MRC’s outpatient clinics to reclaim favorite leisure activities, others are striving to return to work. Perry Hudson, for example, sought out Methodist Rehab’s expertise after a fall at his workplace, the Yazoo County Correctional Facility. The tumble battered his right side, leaving behind a sprained ankle and bruised knee. But the worst of it was damage to the L-5 disc in his spine. To address his severe back pain, Hudson traveled to Flowood to take advantage of two Methodist clinics— Methodist Pain & Spine and Methodist Outpatient Therapy. Dr. Philip Blount, a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician at Methodist Pain & Spine, offered a twopronged approach to Hudson’s recovery. He recommended a pain-relieving injection, followed by a course of physical therapy. Steve Friend, a veteran physical therapist at Methodist Outpatient Therapy in Flowood, began working with Hudson in July. And Hudson doesn’t believe coincidence brought them together. “I had high expectations that the Lord would lead me to the right facility

Clockwise from top left: Shannon Aiken, right, clinic manager for Methodist Orthotics & Prosthetics in Oxford, checks how Michael Ragan of Batesville is adjusting to a pair of ankle-foot braces custom-designed to give him more stability. At Methodist Outpatient Therapy in Flowood, physical therapist Steve Friend, right, guides Perry Hudson of Yazoo City through exercises that have helped him overcome a painful work injury. Lori Towery, a physical therapist at Methodist Outpatient Therapy in Ridgeland, applies a type of manual therapy to help George Atchley of Ridgeland recover from laparoscopic surgery on a meniscus tear in his left knee.

to regain all my abilities,” said Hudson, who’s also a pastor at Helping Hands Outreach Ministry in Yazoo City. “And since I’ve started therapy, by the grace of God everything is going wonderfully. Right now my pain level is zero.” On a 1 to 10 scale, Hudson said his agony was more like an 8 when he first arrived at MRC. “I couldn’t bend over or turn left or right. And I had problems walking and balancing.” His limited standing endurance meant he also couldn’t preach as long as before. So his wife, church music minister Alberta Hudson, made sure he didn’t overdo it. “She would give me the eye or hit a tone on the keyboard,” he said. To help Hudson recapture the capacity to do more, Friend said he focused on tailored stretches and exercises for his back. “Everybody’s a little different, but I try to make the therapy program as active as possible, rather than the person receiving a lot of passive procedures,” Friend said. The exception was when Hudson

had back pain flare-ups. Then he underwent some therapeutic taping and manual therapy, a hands-on treatment used to relieve muscle spasms, release tension and improve flexibility in the joints. Hudson also benefited from sessions with the HIVAMAT 200, a device that uses an alternating electrostatic field to create deep oscillation pulsations. It helps with swelling, muscle tension, poor blood circulation, sprains and strains and fibrous build-up from surgical trauma. Hudson said he liked that Friend took a whole person approach to his care. In addition to monitoring the health of Hudson’s right knee and ankle, Friend also buoyed his spirits. “I’ve been under a lot of therapy in the past, but I have had no one like Mr. Friend,” Hudson said. “He’s a Godly man, and he encouraged me with a lot of scriptures.” The goal was to get Hudson back to work, and Hudson said he was fortunate to have an employer willing to work with him. “Warden Gary Edwards provided everything Dr. Blount ordered for

me—a new office chair and no lifting or contact with inmates,” Hudson said. “It makes our job easier when those pieces fall together,” Friend said. But he added that Hudson has to be commended for his commitment to getting better. “Right on time, he has met every goal and milestone,” Friend said. “It’s kind of a perfect case of him being willing and ready to take information we’re giving him and going forward with it. He’s so smart about understanding the principles of how his back works—what to do and what not to do.” On Aug. 28, Hudson went back to work as a certified trainer for staff at Yazoo County Correctional Facility. And he said it was truly an answered prayer. “There was a time when I first came to Methodist when I could hardly bend over. I came in house shoes. I kept praying for God to strengthen my mobility and he did. When I leave Methodist, I feel great. There’s no pain and no stiffness. Right now I feel like I’ve never been injured.”






MRC’s new 12,300-sq. ft. outpatient facility is located at 102 S. Perkins St. in Ridgeland, Miss. It features a large therapy gym with the latest in therapeutic equipment, a SwimEx resistance swimming pool, a full-size kitchen whre patients can practice independent living skills, and much more. It is also home to Quest, MRC’s intensive outpatient program.





ON THE BEAT by Carey Miller

AS A 20-YEAR VETERAN OF LAW ENFORCEMENT, Devie Freeman is used to closing cases.

But still open is the case of what exactly happened to him on the night of Aug. 22, 2016 at his Canton, Miss., residence. “In the wee hours of the morning, around 3 a.m., apparently I was attempting to go downstairs—I’m assuming to get a bottle of water—and I fell down the stairs,” Freeman said. “Later, I was informed that my door was open and my alarm went off, so the police came to the apartment for the alarm call and they found me laying on the sofa and bleeding.” Freeman was airlifted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center, where doctors removed two pieces of his skull to relieve the pressure on his brain. He was put into an induced coma and was placed on a breathing machine, spending 19 days in the ICU. In all, he spent two months in acute care at UMMC, before being discharged to inpatient rehab at Methodist Rehabilitation Center on Oct. 23, 2016.



“It was a very, very long recovery,” said his wife Atlene. Freeman, a 47-year-old father of four, doesn’t recall his accident, or much of his time at UMMC and MRC. That’s quite common for those who suffer a traumatic brain injury, as he did in his fall. What isn’t so common, though, is that Freeman is now back to his former beat as the liaison officer for the Meridian, Miss., Housing Authority, less than a year after his accident. “I’ve worked with a number of patients from law enforcement,” said Clea Evans, Ph.D. “Some of them went back to a modified job—they just went and did desk work. I’ve seen a lot get back to that level. But it’s difficult for them to get back to active duty, being out in the field and carrying weapons.”

As head of the neuropsychology department at MRC, Evans evaluates patients to determine their cognitive ability and recommends further treatment or, if possible, a return to work. “Part of our job is to find out what this guy does, and to find out if he has the skills to go back and do it safely,” Evans said. “With someone in his position, there is a lot more on the line.” Evans says that professions like doctors, nurses and law enforcement are often the most difficult to return to work following a traumatic injury. Police work requires a high level of function for activities like driving, firing a weapon and critical thinking and decision-making. “I saw social skills as a very important element of his job—being able to talk to people, to think quickly and problem solve on his feet, and being able to negotiate and de-escalate situations with people in conflict,” Evans said. Freeman was referred to Quest, Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s comprehensive outpatient program for people with brain or spinal injuries who wish to make a successful return to work, school or home life. Quest’s team of clinicians includes physical, occupational and speech therapists certified to assess

Meridian police officer Devie Freeman



Meridian police officer Devie Freeman completed the driver rehabilitation program at MRC to allow him to get back behind the wheel of his patrol car.

a patient’s level of function after injury. They also work closely with Evans and the neuropsychology department. “We initially tested Devie in December,” Evans said. “We felt like he still had some difficulties in focused areas. We used that as a guide to tell them at Quest what he most needed to work on. He actually had a lot of normal range scores at that time, so some areas had improved.” While Freeman was an inpatient at Methodist Rehab, he was still experiencing the confusion, memory and attention problems, and difficulty with speech that are symptoms of a brain injury. While he says his recollection of his time in inpatient rehab is hazy, he knows he was motivated by the support of family, coworkers and friends. “I know my mother-in-law told me I should get better so I could come home and eat dinner,” Freeman said. “That was a motivation to me. I can’t remember exact conversations, but I do remember people coming to see me.” Freeman’s godmother, a former school administrator, also kept him on task. “Whatever she said is what I ended up doing,” Freeman said. “She just has



this look that motivates you.” Driven by the support, with the guidance of his therapists and a dogged determination to get out of the wheelchair he was using, Freeman began to emerge from his fog. “The therapists really work with you to help you stay on track,” he said. “I knew each time what progress I needed to make so I just kept on moving with it. Then it was like I did a complete 180.” But just as his mental health had begun to recover, it was discovered that Freeman had suffered some unseen physical trauma in the accident, a left clavicle fracture. “They were focused on getting him right in the head, but until he could talk and let them know he how was hurting during physical therapy, they just didn’t know,” Atlene said. That was one of the challenges he faced when he came to Quest, says Patricia Oyarce, who served as his physical therapist and primary caregiver at the outpatient program. “Overall he came in testing well physically,” Oyarce said. “So we worked on general endurance and conditioning. His main problem was he was left handed, and that was the side he had his in-

jury on.” “Being a lefty, I couldn’t imagine not using my left hand,” Freeman said. “So if she asked me to do this or that, I made sure to do one step above it.” But first, Oyarce said, she had to address Freeman’s issues with postural hypotension. It occurs when a person’s blood pressure drops abnormally when going from a lying or sitting to standing position, and is common after a brain injury. “We started working on addressing that, by doing progressive activities and changing positions while monitoring his blood pressure,” Oyarce said. “Then we were really able to move forward with more high-level activities.” With getting Freeman back to work in mind, Oyarce devised therapies to help strengthen the muscles he would be using out in the field. “In his case, his vest can get very heavy because he carries a lot of gear in it,” Oyarce said. “He brought his vest to Quest so he could work out with it. Because of his left shoulder he couldn’t wear it long at first. So I did things like have him walk on the treadmill wearing his vest. “We also had to work on his bal-

Officer Devie Freeman chats with operations captain John Griffith at the Meridian police station.

Meridian police officer Devie Freeman poses with his patrol car outside the Meridian Police Department’s headquarters.

ance, so it was interesting that I had him doing some of the same tests that he used to test people for drunk driving.” Freeman also saw occupational therapist Kari Richeson, who worked with him on other on-the-job tasks. “We had to work on his functional endurance to make sure he could tolerate a full day of work,” she said. “He also needed to drive again, so we focused on reaction speed and visual processing.” Quest’s speech therapist and staff psychologist both cleared him right away, as he was not having any difficulties with speech or emotional issues. “We all see the person from a different perspective according to our scope of practice and we contribute to his returnto-work letter,” Richeson said. “That is a letter that I write, that is contributed to by PT, OT and neuropsych and signed by the physician. I then make myself available to both employee and employer for any work site visits, were the patient to need any accommodations or the employer to need any education or assistance.” By March, Freeman was ready to be reevaluated by Evans to determine if he could go back to work. “He had already been looking at a

Meridian police officer Devie Freeman answers a call at one of the housing developments he patrols as liaison officer for the Meridian Housing Authority.

plausible plan to return to work,” Evans said. “We reevaluated him, and I felt like he had improved enough to handle the cognitive aspects of his job, so I recommended to his employer that he then undergo weapons recertification.” Richeson says they often rely on the employers to assess the areas that PT and OT are not equipped to do. “I could help him with his endurance, but I couldn’t exactly say he was proficient at shooting,” she said. “Luckily, we have the support of the law enforcement agencies, who can clear them for the things like firing a weapon and driving a patrol car. We allow the employers to use the standardized tests they already have.” Freeman passed his recertification and returned to work in March. “When I first started back, I had to ride with my partner because that was the process I had to go through,” Freeman said. “After I completed the driving rehab course at MRC and passed my driving test, I can now drive on my own.” “I would say his pace was remarkable,” Richeson said. “He had a really great recovery. It’s always what you hope for, but it’s not always an option to put

somebody back in such a high-risk role like a police officer.” Atlene says she never imagined anything like this happening to her husband. For the wives of police officers, there’s always the thought of something happening to their spouse on the job. “From the day he first started, it was always in the back of my mind,” she said. “But police work is his passion, so I couldn’t stop him. For such a freak thing to happen was unbelievable.” Freeman says his wife’s tireless support carried him through his recovery. “From the moment they called my wife to let her know what had happened to me, she was there,” Freeman said. “I may not have seen it—I don’t remember it, but from day one she was there. All my family and friends will attest to it. And she’s still right there for me.” “Another key to his recovery was his attitude,” Richeson said. “He came in every single day 100 percent willing to do what we asked him to do. We almost hated to discharge him because he was an inspiration to us and our other patients. He was the exact kind of guy you would want out policing our streets.”






Therapy at MRC helps cyclist Robert Tierce bounce back from spinal cord injury by Carey Miller


or a seasoned cyclist like Robert Tierce, riding the 60-some-odd miles from his Ridgeland, Miss., home to Kosciusko, Miss., may not sound like a Herculean task. “I used to ride a road bike anywhere from 60 to 70 miles a time, no problem,” he said. But now, it is quite a feat. Nearly two years ago, his right leg was completely paralyzed by a spinal cord injury from a gunshot wound. Tierce made the jaunt using a recumbent bicycle, which places the rider in a reclining position. “Instead of riding about 20 miles an hour like I used to, I can ride the recumbent about 10 miles an hour,” he said. “That’s my therapy. I try to ride about 100 miles a week.” Tierce was also training for the Mayhem Century Ride, an annual event presented by Ridgeland’s The Bike Crossing. Proceeds from the event benefit stroke research at Methodist Rehabilitation Center, where Tierce recovered from his spinal cord injury.



At center, Bike Crossing co-owner Linda Bartley presents Wilson Foundation Director Chris Blount with a check for the proceeds from the 2017 Mayhem Century Ride. Also pictured, from left, are planning committee members Arash Sepehri and Gary Armstrong of MRC, Michael Bartley of The Bike Crossing, and Robert and Paula Tierce.

“I had to stop at the first rest station when I did the ride in 2016,” Tierce said. “I hadn’t been back to riding very long at that point. Now, I can probably ride for six or seven hours, but my pace is slow and steady, so it’s time-consuming.” The recumbent bike helps Tierce maintain his balance, one of many ways the former railroad engineer has learned to adapt to life after his injury. He left MRC’s inpatient rehab in September 2015 using a wheelchair. At the time, it seemed he would need to adjust to that lifestyle. “At MRC, they teach you how to manage life with a disability, and they do a good job with it,” Tierce said. “Sometimes, when something like this happens there’s not just a fix, you have to wait and see,” said Tierce’s wife, Paula. “They prepared us to come home and to resume life.” When he first started therapy in August, Tierce was prepared to work hard to recover. Tierce began working with physical therapist Ann Howard to regain his strength. Things initially looked promising. “We started using the body-weight supported treadmill, as it allowed for a safe environment initially for two physical therapists to assist him with repetitive stepping,” Howard said. “We were also using the overhead lift system at the hospital to help transition him to early over ground standing skills.” But suddenly things took a turn for the worse for him. “At first, I didn’t suffer major paralysis, but after about a



Using a borrowed standing wheelchair, Robert Tierce was able to have his dance with daughter Robin Maberry at her wedding.

week into rehab, I developed complete paralysis in the right side and a little bit in the left,” Tierce said. “It’s kind of bizarre how that worked out. I was in there working hard, and then everyone was just scratching their heads as to why I had such a setback. It was very frustrating.” “He was definitely making progress,” Howard said. “But as his discharge date approached, weight-bearing activities became more difficult. And when we re-tested him, some of his muscles had in fact gotten weaker. That usually doesn’t happen.” After leaving inpatient therapy, no recovery seemed in sight. “When we first got home with him in the wheelchair, I was prepared for that to be how it was going to be now,” Paula said. “I thought that if we could just get him using a walker, that would be great.” At that point, the Tierces had even considered risky surgery to remove the bullet that was still lodged in his spine. “As I understand it, there could be just as much trauma taking the bullet out as there was it going in,” Tierce said. They decided instead to continue therapy at MRC’s outpatient facility in Flowood, Miss. “When he first got here, he was not able to stand at all, and he was planning his daughter’s wedding,” said his physical therapist, Lisa Indest. Tierce was determined not to miss his father-daughter

dance. So Indest helped work out a loan of a standing wheelchair from Allison Fracchia, a former MRC therapist who now works for the wheelchair company Permobil. “When it was time for our dance, I was able to lift myself up to a standing position and dance,” Tierce said. “It was a very heartwarming moment for everybody there. I was very grateful for that.” Not long after that, Tierce began a speedy recovery that surprised everyone, bolstered by the therapy techniques Indest employed. “He made really great strides,” Indest said. “That first three to six months, the recovery and outcomes are uncertain, but it’s pretty remarkable the return in function that he had.” Under Indest’s care, Tierce continued many of the therapies he began as an inpatient. He returned to using the body weight-supported treadmill system. He also benefited greatly from functional electrical stimulation (FES), using a combination of a FES exercise cycle and the Bioness neuro orthotic device. FES prevents muscle atrophy and increases cardiovascular endurance. “He really liked to use the FES bike because cycling is his passion,” Indest said. “It was extremely motivating to him to see how he could progress with that. He always went the extra mile and wanted to stay at therapy longer than he had to. He even got an older e-stim bike to use at home. It was a dinosaur—but he used it on his own.” Tierce’s persistence began to pay off. “I went about three months without movement, but then I finally saw some recovery in my right side,” Tierce said. “I came home from work one day and he said, ‘Look what I can do,’” Paula said. “I was sitting on the couch and I could finally lift my leg up,” Tierce added. “That was a major deal!” From that point, his recovery took off. “I would tell him that in a week or so we would start to try using a rolling walker, and the next time he would come into therapy already using one,” Indest said. “She was always surprised when I’d come in and show her a new trick,” Tierce said. “After the walker we did braces—and that wore me out. Now I can walk a little without anything, but I’ve still got some balance issues. “I’ve still got the wheelchair, and a rollator, a walker, braces, a walking stick—and I use every one of them. Everything has a specific purpose for what I want to do.” The Tierces say they’ve been grateful to find a place like MRC so close to home. “Your first instinct is, ‘Where do I go to get the best treatment?’ And I don’t think we could have gotten any better treatment anywhere else,” Paula said. “I feel like Robert worked with the best possible therapists from the time we first came to MRC to the time we left outpatient.” Tierce continues to improve. He outpaced his previous distance at the 2017 Mayhem Century Ride. And he continues to carry with him what he learned during his time in therapy. “Robert’s a very, very motivated person. Even though he’s not in rehab anymore, he’s still at it on his own every day,” Paula said. “I never, ever, ever dreamed he’d come this far. He is a walking miracle.”

In four annual cycling events from 2014-2017, The Bike Crossing of Ridgeland, Miss., has raised over $60,000 for the Wilson Research Foundation for stroke research and services. Formerly called the Mayhem Century Ride, the event will now be known as the Ride for Rehab and will take place on June 9, 2018. Proceeds are raised in honor of former MRC patient Robert Bartley, co-owner of The Bike Crossing. About 50 MRC therapists, researchers and other employees volunteer, setting up costume-themed rest stops providing snacks and Gatorade for the several hundred cyclists. Proceeds of the 2018 ride will support MRC’s new robotic system for arm and hand recovery called the ArmeoPower.






n June 2015, Nancy Smith of Jackson, Miss., had to undergo a complete hip disarticulation to save her life. It’s an amputation of the entire leg through the hip joint, one of the rarest. Taylor Hankins, a certified prosthetist at Methodist Orthotics & Prosthetics in Flowood, Miss., has only seen three in his career. “I’ve been a part of working on the prosthesis for each,” he said. “I observed the first one, helped with the second one and Nancy was my first go at it independently. I couldn’t have asked for a better patient to work with. She’s motivated, and she’s probably one of the most positive people I’ve ever been around.” Few could maintain such a positive outlook facing the series of challenges Smith has been through. “The name of the book of my life story is going to be I Can’t Make This Stuff Up,” she joked.



by Carey Miller Earlier in 2015, Smith had undergone a pancreatic transplant at the University of Mississippi Medical Center to treat her Type 1 diabetes. Unfortunately, her body began to reject the transplant, a nightmare in and of itself. But then a persistent fever was the first sign that something else had gone seriously wrong. She soon complained of an intense pain in her hip, and her doctors discovered that she had contracted necrotizing fasciitis, commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria. “I woke up in ICU and my right leg was gone,” she said. “I didn’t know what had happened.” Taking her leg was the only way the doctors could save her life. Removing the affected tissue is often the only way to stop the spread of the infection. “I wasn’t supposed to make it, my family had to say their final goodbyes twice,” she said. “So I was very fortunate to just be alive.”

Nancy Smith with her dogs, Boston terrier Rowdy and bulldog Crash.



It was difficult to pinlocated at the same Flowood point how and where she facility that houses Methodist contracted the infection, but O&P. necrotizing fasciitis is most The clinic is overseen by common for those with a physical medicine and rehaweakened immune system. bilitation physician Philip Could it have come from a Blount of Methodist’s Pain simple scratch she got work& Spine Center. Its purpose ing in the yard? is to allow patients to see all “My immune system of Methodist’s outpatient was so compromised from services providers in a single the transplant, and I’ve been appointment to determine a a Type 1 diabetic most of my course of treatment. life,” she said. “It’s hard to Dr. Blount determined say.” that Smith was an excellent After 12 surgeries and candidate to learn to walk almost two months in acute again with a prosthesis. care, Smith came to Method“I was lucky enough to be ist Rehabilitation Center for a good candidate for it,” Smith therapy. As an inpatient, she said. “I had been very active began adjusting to life with an before, so that helped a lot.” amputation, with her cheerful Smith was also seen by outlook intact. Karen Klein, a 17-year veteran “I felt like, I was so lucky physical therapist at Methodto be there, it was like I had ist Outpatient Neurological a personal trainer three times Services, also housed at the a day,” she said. “I’ve had so Flowood facility. Certified prosthetist Taylor Hankins installs a cover for Nancy Smith’s prosthesis that many other things that have “She has worked with he had custom-designed and 3D-printed. been challenges in my life, I other amputees, and even didn’t know what else to do another with a hip disarticbut get up and figure out how ulation, which very few PTs to get better. I just always told have,” Smith said. myself I would walk again. I never questioned that they couldn’t Meanwhile, Hankins had begun the work of building the do something for me.” actual prosthesis, which in her case was a combination of three Her answer came when Hankins first came to visit her at prosthetic devices: a hip, a knee and an ankle. MRC. “We used a microprocessor-controlled knee, because with “Taylor walked into my room one day and said, ‘I’m going her injury she doesn’t have a lot of control,” Hankins said. “She to build you a prosthesis,’ and I said, ‘OK, let’s do it!’ and it has needed something that could do the thinking and reacting for just been such a blessing,” Smith said. “I didn’t know anything her.” about it, except what little I could read. But since hip disarticuOnce the prosthesis had been built and she was fitted with lations account for less than 1 percent of all amputations, there’s it that November, she began physical therapy with Klein to benot that much out there.” come accustomed to it. Hankins says that the knowledge base even within his pro“A lot of people we see have balance issues, decreased fession is limited. stamina, range of motion issues—all of that plays into how they “You don’t see a lot of people with this particular type of walk and how they learn to walk again,” Hankins said. “That’s amputation, and you see even fewer walking with it,” he said. where PT comes in.” Because of that, the devices available are not as advanced as “We expect everyone who has lost a limb to have some they had become for other, more common amputations. balance problems,” Klein said. “But we also do specific skilled “If you look at most hip disarticulation devices, they havassessments that pick up on things prosthetists might not, like en’t changed in years—the socket looks like a bucket they wear, the functional problems that arise day-in day-out from being up with one hole to put their intact leg through,” he said. “We on your feet at home and in the community.” wanted to get away from that with Nancy, because she’s got “I went to Karen twice a week, and we practiced walking great potential to get back to the community and high-level in the parking lot, on uneven surfaces, even stairs,” Smith said. activities. “It was all about gaining trust in the leg and working on my “Through my research, I found a company that makes balance.” a much smaller, easier-to-wear socket—they call it the bikini Klein says with the help of her positive attitude and detersocket, in fact. That’s where we started. The fit of the socket is mination, Smith made quick progress. the basis of how the entire prosthesis functions.” “The higher the amputation, the harder it is to learn to walk While Hankins did his research, Smith left inpatient rehab with the prosthesis, and the more energy and drive it requires,” at MRC, and came for an assessment at MRC’s CORE Clinic, Klein said. “In a sense we’re like cheerleaders, encouraging pa-





tients to stick with it to progress. Nancy was very motivated from day one. She wanted to make leaps and not baby steps. I had to keep telling her it was a marathon and not a sprint.” Having their clinics in the same building allowed Hankins and Klein to collaborate closely. “Working with Karen next door was eye-opening because I was able to do my job as Nancy was going through the PT program and I could come over and make adjustments as necessary, which was critical because her device had so many moving parts,” Hankins said. “He was over for the majority of her therapy sessions from the beginning, to make sure she had a comfortable fit, and that it wasn’t rubbing or irritating her skin,” Klein said. Hankins would often make fine adjustments on the fly based on Klein and Smith’s feedback. “What was amazing to me was the tweaking,” Smith said. “Taylor was constantly refining it, customizing it to work best for me. He was like the MacGyver of the prosthetic world.” In March of last year, Hankins showed his flair for ingenuity by designing a custom cover for her prosthesis. “You can’t hide a hip disarticulation, like you can with some other prostheses that can be made to look like ‘real’ legs,” he said. “So why not do something a little more fun with it? It stills needs to be covered, it still needs to be protected, so why not make it nice to look at as well? We talked to some graphic designers and had a cover 3D printed. It looks great and functions well, and best of all, she likes it.”

“He had such a great commitment,” Smith said. “He made me the coolest cover ever.” Not long after, however, Smith suffered a setback. In April 2016, she fell and broke her right leg, and had to spend several months recovering. “I tripped and fell and immediately I knew I had broken it,” she said. “Before that I never had any fear. It took me several months after I recovered to get back into walking with my prosthesis.” Smith returned to physical therapy with Klein, and eventually returned to walking on her prosthesis. She now enjoys walking her two dogs, an English bulldog and a Boston terrier, daily. Smith also recently tried wheelchair tennis. An avid tennis player before her injury, she was immediately hooked. “Yesterday I played for the first time,” Smith said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been that excited. I think I’m totally obsessed.” Smith says her perspective on life, as well as her faith, has always carried her through the darker times. “As hard as it’s been, I think it’s been a blessing,” she said. “God definitely has got a plan. My life would have not had this many twists and turns if it were not for Him. Mother Teresa once said, ‘I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.’ “I can’t imagine having gone anywhere else that could do all that Methodist has done for me. I’m lucky that God put the best people ever in front of me.”




Prominent ob/gyn doc finds herself on the opposite end of the doctor-patient relationship after being paralyzed by a rare syndrome by Susan Christensen

After months of being off work, Dr. Edra Kimmel, right, is back to a busy schedule of seeing patients with the help of registered nurse Kristen Weaver.




n the summer of 2016, Dr. Edra Kimmel was living the hectic life of a popular obstetrician/gynecologist. She had patients to see, babies to deliver and surgeries to perform. So when she began feeling achy and feverish, she refused to let a few flu symptoms slow her down. “I was too busy to deal with anything,” she said. But a couple of weeks later, she had to cry uncle. “I woke up with complete right facial paralysis, both legs were completely numb and my abdomen felt like a girdle of numbness,” she said. Kimmel thought she’d had a stroke. But the culprit wasn’t nearly so common. At the hospital, physicians diagnosed Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a paralyzing disease that strikes only one or two people per 100,000. GBS occurs when the body’s immune system attacks myelin, the insulation that surrounds and protects nerve fibers. The resulting damage temporarily disconnects communication between the brain and muscles. Blood tests also revealed Kimmel had West Nile virus infection. And doctors theorized that the virus had weakened Kimmel’s immune system, leaving her susceptible to GBS. It’s also possible Kimmel was paralyzed by the West Nile virus itself. A polio-like illness is one form of the mosquito-borne disease and it’s often mistaken for GBS, said Dr. Art Leis, a renowned West Nile virus researcher at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson, Miss. “There’s a fine line between those two diagnoses,” Kimmel said. But as a pragmatist, she wasn’t fixated on what caused her paralysis. Her focus was on how to overcome it. “I just knew I needed a really good inpatient rehabilitation facility,” she said. “So I asked to be evaluated at Methodist Rehab. “I always heard good things about the facility, the staff and the intensity of the therapy. I was certainly willing to be as intense as I needed to be because I expected a full recovery and a return to my practice. And I wanted the best shot to accomplish that.” Today, Kimmel is fully back to her Flowood, Miss., gynecology and surgical practice. And it’s an astonishing turnaround considering her condition when she first arrived at Methodist Rehab on July 13, 2016. “I was confined to a wheelchair, and I couldn’t do anything for myself,” she said. “Thankfully, I had wonderful support from my husband, daughter and son. I didn’t spend one night alone during the 10 weeks I was hospitalized.”

Weak as she was, Kimmel was a bit taken aback by her first day in the therapy gym. “When (physical therapist) Chris McGuffey told me he was going to take me out of my wheelchair and put me on the mat on my hands and knees, I laughed. I said, ‘I can’t feel my legs.’ And he said, ‘Just trust me.’” Kimmel ended up swaying into McGuffey’s lap. But as she got to know her therapy team, “trust came very quickly,” she said. “I think it’s because they’re so well-trained,” she said. “Each day, I was amazed what they were able to do with me. I would wake up before sun-up, and I was excited to start the day.” Maybe a little too excited, said McGuffey. “She would ask for extra therapy and that made it hard for us not to over-fatigue her,” he said. To counter the extreme weakness that impaired Kimmel’s ability to sit or stand, McGuffey focused on improving her core strength. “That’s why to this day she sends me photos of her doing Pilates,” he said. With Methodist Rehab occupational therapist Debbie Webb, Kimmel worked on improving her hand function, a necessary precursor to recapturing her surgical skills. “Initially she was unable to perform fine motor skills, and she was worried she wouldn’t be able to go back to work,” Webb said. “So one of the things we did was set up a way for her to practice sutures. We stuffed a sock and put a slit in it. And she used her suture kit to suture it up.” Kimmel was obviously determined to reclaim her career, said her therapists. “You didn’t have to find her for therapy, she would memorize her schedule,” McGuffey said. Kimmel also made it clear that visitors weren’t welcome during her therapy time. “She was so focused on getting better she didn’t want anything to distract her,” Webb said. Nor did she want to indulge in any negativity. “I did not want to get disenchanted or discouraged,” she said. “I wanted to be positive and believe I would recover. As long as I was making progress, I felt good about where I was.” But she admits it took some time to adjust to the incremental nature of the rehabilitation process. “I kept saying I didn’t need to learn certain things because I was going to get well. And they would say: ‘Today, you are where you are, and we have to teach functions at your current capacity.’ “That was a little disconcerting. But very slowly, each day I realized I could do a little more and a little more.” Kimmel set a goal of walking out of Methodist Rehab. And after six weeks of hard work, she did just that with the aid of a walker. She moved to outpatient therapy on Aug. 19, 2016.

“I asked to be evaluated at Methodist Rehab. I always heard good things about the facility, the staff and the intensity of the therapy. I was certainly willing to be as intense as I needed to be because I expected a full recovery and a return to my practice. And I wanted the best shot to accomplish that.”

—Dr. Edra Kimmel



To help Dr. Edra Kimmel get back to her doctor duties, Methodist Rehabilitation Center occupational therapist Debbie Webb, left, had Kimmel practice suturing a slit in a stuffed sock.

Bopping a balloon while standing on a BOSU balance trainer is one way Dr. Edra Kimmel improved her balance while working with physical therapist Chris McGuffey, center, and therapy technician Betty Dorsey-Wilson, right.

Occupational therapist Debbie Webb, left, said Dr. Edra Kimmel embraced every form of therapeutic exercise as she put everything into reclaiming her career.



And once again, she was all about returning to her career. “She was obviously driven in the medical field and that’s how she was in therapy, too,” said Ann Howard, her physical therapist at Methodist Outpatient Therapy in Flowood. “She knew what her main goal was, and she always wanted to know the purpose of each therapy,” said MRC occupational therapist Sydney Sisson. “We worked on very job-specific activities,” Howard added. For one activity, Sisson tossed weighted balls to Kimmel while she perched on a rolling stool. “That was to practice balance and try to simulate the movements that occur while delivering a baby,” Kimmel said. “It is not a ‘one pull and you are done’ process.” Sisson also accompanied Kimmel to a nearby hospital, where she practiced robotic surgery techniques. With Howard, Kimmel concentrated on improving her core strength, balance and walking ability. “We have a body weight-supporting treadmill, and she would work on pelvis control,” Howard said. “And we would do work simulations, too. I’d have her carry charts and walk and turn and go in and out of rooms.” While Kimmel’s background as a physician turned out to be an asset, “initially it was a hindrance,” she said. “My mind knew way too much, and I wanted instant results. I wanted to be well. But in the long-haul of recovery, it helped.” “She was very aware of her body and things that were not functioning properly,” Howard said. “She taught us as much as we taught her,” Sisson added. Altogether, Kimmel spent four months in outpatient therapy. She supplemented those sessions with twice-weekly Pilates workouts. And her diligence paid off. “She came into therapy in a wheelchair,” Howard said. “Then she went from wheelchair to walker to rollator to forearm crutches to walking independently at the time of discharge. Her balance also improved from a high fall risk to a perfect score on the Berg Balance Test.” Kimmel progressed rapidly in occupational therapy, too, and soon began easing back into her work schedule. “When I first came back to work, it was just for three hours one day a week. But it was a start,” she said. “Over the course of two months, I worked up to the traditional four and half days a week.” “It was a big day when she did her first procedure,” Sisson said. “We all celebrated it.” Kimmel said she owes a lot to those who supported her efforts to reclaim a career she loves. “I am so thankful for my ob/gyn partners at Jackson Healthcare for Women and their willingness to add all of my patients into their schedules and absorb all my remaining ‘on call’ nights and weekends without hesitation.” Today, Kimmel believes she’s a better physician for having been on the flip side of the doctor-patient relationship. “Definitely it has rejuvenated my compassion and improved my level of patience as a physician,” she said. “I’ve learned that some people just need for us to sit and listen.” And she’s also gained a healthy respect for the damage one tiny mosquito bite can do. “People don’t think it can be serious, but it can,” she said.

Through the recently formed Mosquito Illness Alliance, Sharon Sims and Dr. Art Leis are part of a new initiative to impact people affected by mosquito-borne diseases.

Bite Fighters


e’s the Methodist Rehabilitation Center neurologist whose groundbreaking research helped link West Nile virus to a polio-like paralysis in 2000. She’s a former Mississippi Department of Health employee who launched the nation’s first support group for WNV patients in 2003.

And now Dr. Art Leis and Sharon Sims are part of a new initiative to impact people affected by mosquito-borne diseases. Through the recently formed Mosquito Illness Alliance, they’re helping inform the public about arboviruses and expanding the support network for WNV patients. “Basically we want to let people know there are resources out there,” said Sims, president of MIA, a non-profit organization funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) in Washington, D.C. Authorized by Congress in 2010, PCORI provides patients, caregivers and clinicians with evidence-based information needed to make better informed healthcare decisions. And its support of MIA comes at a critical time. “We realized after last year’s global epidemic of Zika virus that we would have to broaden our horizons,” said Leis, a senior scientist at Methodist Rehab who serves as a MIA board member. Leis said viruses are transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks or other arthropods and cause illnesses such as Zika, Dengue fever, Yellow fever, St. Louis encephalitis and Chikungunya. In the United States, West Nile virus is probably the most well-known arbovirus, due to a major

2012 outbreak that sickened 5,674 and caused 286 deaths. At its worst, WNV can cause paralyzing poliomyelitis and brain-damaging encephalitis and meningitis. Yet almost 18 years since the first cases were reported in the U.S., Leis said West Nile virus infections are still mistaken for other illnesses. “One of the major missions of MIA is to focus on the WNV symptoms that are too often overlooked by health care deliverers,” Leis said. “One of the frustrating things is that first line physicians in particular see unexplained meningitis and encephalitis during peak mosquito months and still fail to order West Nile virus testing. And this under-reporting artificially minimizes the impact of this mosquito-borne illness.” Another MIA focus is patient support, and that’s being built on an already solid foundation. Mississippi’s West Nile virus support group has been a model for others since its inception almost 15 years ago. “We are the only one in the nation that meets regularly,” Sims said. Until 2013, the group was funded by the state Department of Health with Sims as its leader. Today, Methodist Rehab supports the group, which meets quarterly in both Jackson, Miss., and Hattiesburg, Miss.

Members flock to the group for peer support, scientific news from Leis and the opportunity to participate in research studies. And Sims said that won’t change. “We’ve been together since 2003 and I don’t want those people who have been faithful to think we’ve outgrown them,” Sims said. What will be new is the reach of the group. “The main thing we’re doing is going live nationwide for the support group meetings,” Sims said. “This will allow people throughout the nation to meet others with WNV. They’ll also hear Dr. Leis give good science-based information. Currently, there is not a lot of good information out there about how to even treat the symptoms that develop after West Nile virus infection.” Sims said a variety of health care professionals will address issues common to WNV patients. “Then Dr. Leis will allow about an hour for patients to be able to ask questions in a chat room.” Recordings of the meeting will be posted on MIA’s website, and linked on its Facebook page, www.facebook. com/mosquitoillnessalliance. For more information, email or call 601-672-6687.




MRC staff were trained by Hocoma representative Brian LeLoup (rear center) on the usage of the Lokomat gait rehabilitation system. Pictured are, clockwise from left, physical therapist Kathleen Dobbs, research physical therapist Annie Rieher, assistive technology specialist Tremaine Nathan, research scientist John Chow, neurophysiology technician Tony Hayes, senior scientist Dr. Keith Tansey, physical therapist Christopher McGuffey and physical therapist Patricia Oyarce.

Advanced rehab

Research changes lives at Methodist Rehabilitation Center


very year, the Wilson Research Foundation raises funds and makes grants to Methodist Rehabilitation Center for research, technology and education. It is an investment in our patients and an investment for Mississippi. Thanks to your gifts, great things are happening. This past year we achieved 12 peer-reviewed research publications and we are preparing to launch new clinical studies. We have added to our talented research staff, opened a Neurorobotics Lab to provide innovative therapies to patients, while teaching therapists advanced rehab techniques.


Our purpose as a Foundation is to invest in research that gets people back to their lives. Each year, building on our research findings, we are able to better understand the obstacles our patients face. We are able to develop new treatments to improve walking, restore arm and hand function, and manage debilitating muscle spasticity. And we are significantly closer to



by Chris Blount, Foundation Director understanding how mosquito-borne viruses like West Nile can cause neurological problems, which could lead to groundbreaking treatments in the future. This research program, and the evidence-based care it inspires, is what makes MRC excellent and truly distinctive. And we need your help. Your tax-deductible gifts will help us harness the exciting technologies we are acquiring and make significant discoveries on what works best so that patients may recover more meaningfully and quickly. It is a cause that truly matters.


We recognize our supporters on the following pages. Also, the sponsors of our Walk & Roll (April 7, 2018) and the Ride for Rehab (June 9, 2018) are recognized in extensive event marketing. And all investors who’ve given $1,000 or more are honored on a beautiful new wall display in our hospital atrium. The most important recognition you will receive, however, is in the faces of the lives transformed by your support. For more information, visit

RESEARCH PUBLICATIONS MRC researchers are denoted in blue type


Chow JW, Stokic DS: Variability, frequency composition, and temporal regularity of submaximal isometric elbow flexion force in subacute stroke. Experimental Brain Research 2016; 234:3145-3155. Holcomb EM, Towns S, Kamper JE, Barnett SD, Sherer M, Evans C, Nakase-Richardson R: The relationship between sleep-wake cycle disturbance and trajectory of cognitive recovery during acute TBI. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation 2016; 31: 108-116. Leis AA, Stokic DS: Zika virus and Guillain–Barre syndrome: Is there sufficient evidence for causality? Frontiers in Neurology 2016: 7:170. Leis AA, Ross MA, Verheijde JL, Leis JF: Immunoablation and stem cell transplantation in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: The ultimate test for the autoimmune pathogenesis hypothesis. Frontiers in Neurology 2016; 7: 12. Minassian K, Hofstoetter US, Danner SM, Mayr W, Bruce JA, McKay WB, Tansey KE: Spinal rhythm generation by step-induced feedback and transcutaneous posterior root stimulation in complete spinal cord-injured individuals. Neurorehabilitation & Neural Repair 2016; 30: 233-243. Paul AM, Acharya D, Le L, Wang P, Stokic DS, Leis AA, Alexopoulou L, Town T, Flavell RA, Fikrig E, Bai F: TLR8 couples SOCS-1 and restrains TLR7-mediated antiviral immunity exacerbating West Nile virus infection in mice. Journal of Immunology 2016; 197: 4425-4435. Simpson DM, Hallett M, Ashman EJ, Comella CL, Green MW, Gronseth GS, Armstrong MJ, Gloss D, Potrebic S, Jankovic J, Karp

BP, Naumann M, So YT, Yablon SA: Practice guideline update summary: Botulinum neurotoxin for the treatment of blepharospasm, cervical dystonia, adult spasticity, and headache: Report of the Guideline Development Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology. Neurology 2016; 86: 1818-1826.


Acharya D, Wang P, Paul A, Dai J, Gate D, Lowery J, Stokic DS, Leis AA, Flavell R, Town T, Fikrig E, Bai F: Interleukin-17A Promotes CD8+ T Cell cytotoxicity to facilitate West Nile virus clearance. Journal of Virology 2017; 91: e1529-16. Chiang CC, Parsons AM, Kriegshauser JS, Paripati HR, Zarka MA, Leis AA: Pleural ‘drop metastases’ 21 years after resection of a thymoma. Muscle & Nerve 2017; 56: 171-175. Chow JW, Stokic DS: Improvements in force variability and structure from vision- to memory-guided submaximal isometric knee extension in subacute stroke. Journal of Applied Physiology 2017 (in print). Chow JW, Yablon SA, Stokic DS: Intrathecal baclofen bolus reduces exaggerated extensor coactivation during pre-swing and early-swing of gait after acquired brain injury. Clinical Neurophysiology 2017; 128: 725-733. Frontera WR, Bean JF, Damiano D, Ehrlich-Jones L, Fried-Oken M, Jette A, Jung R, Lieber RL, Malec JF, Mueller MJ, Ottenbacher KJ, Tansey KE, Thompson A: Rehabilitation research at the National Institutes of Health: Moving the field forward (executive summary). Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation 2017; 98: 795-803.

Howard CL, Wallace, CT, Abbas JJ, Stokic DS: Residual Standard Deviation: Validation of a new measure of dual-task cost in below-knee prosthesis users. Gait & Posture 2017; 51: 91-96. Howard CL, Perry B, Chow JW, Wallace C, Stokic DS: Increased alertness, better than posture prioritization, explains dual-task performance in prosthesis users and controls under increasing postural and cognitive challenge. Experimental Brain Research 2017 (in print). Howard CL, Wallace C, Perry B, Stokic DS: Comparison of mobility and user satisfaction between a microprocessor knee and standard prosthetic knee: a summary of seven single-subject trials. International Journal of Rehabilitation Research 2017 (in print). Leis AA, Smith BE, Kosiorek HE, Omejec G, Podnar S: Complete dislocation of the ulnar nerve at the elbow: A protective effect against neuropathy? Muscle & Nerve 2017; 56: 242-246. Paul AM, Acharya D, Duty L, Thompson EA, Le L, Stokic DS, Leis AA, Bai F: Osteopontin facilitates West Nile virus neuroinvasion via neutrophil ‘Trojan horse’ transport. Scientific Reports 2017; 7: 4722. Perry BE, Evans EK, Stokic DS: Weight compensation characteristics of ArmeoSpring exoskeleton: implications for clinical practice and research. Journal of Neuroengineering & Rehabilitation 2017; 14: 14. Shah SA, Mohamadpour M, Askin G, Nakase-Richardson R, Stokic DS, Sherer M, Yablon SA, Schiff ND: Focal electroencephalographic changes index post-traumatic confusion and outcome. Journal of Neurotrauma 2017; 34: 2691-2699.

“After suffering a stroke, my dad credited Methodist Rehab for restoring his ability to walk, so I have seen firsthand the difference made by this center. Realizing the importance to fund research and education, I am proud to live in a state that offers a place like MRC. I hope that I or those I love never need the services provided there, however, I want to do my part to ensure those services are always available.”

Gene Delcomyn, executive vice president of BankPlus and a member of the board of MRC’s Wilson Research Foundation



Wilson Research Foundation Honorarium We honor these generous donors to the Wilson Research Foundation. Thank you for helping us restore ability and hope through research, education and technology at Methodist Rehabilitation Center. To make a tax-deductible donation or to learn more about The Wilson Research Foundation, contact us at (601) 364-3598 or email wfgift@wilsonfoundation. org. Or, make a secure online donation at


BankPlus Ergon Foundation, Inc. Gertrude C. Ford Foundation Ann and Jorge R. Leis H. F. McCarty, Jr. Family Foundation Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Leo Seal and the Leo Seal Trust Fund Maxine and John Tullos Earl R. and Martha Lyles Wilson Linda and Wirt Yerger


$200,000 - $499,999 Estate of Marsha Blount Luckyday Foundation Selby and Richard McRae Foundation MRC Gift Shop Volunteers Estate of Gordon Scarbrough


$85,000 - $199,999 Ameristar Cares Workplace Giving Anne Andrews Black Charitable Lead Unitrust Barbara and Jeep Clark Paula and Randy James Donna and Art Leis, MD Carolyn and John McIntyre, Jr. Lyn and David McMillin Moran Family Philanthropic Fund Virginia Wilson Mounger and J. Harbour Mounger Pruet Foundation Estate of Lillian Simpson


$25,000 - $84,999

Gina and Mark Adams Linda and Robert Bartley The Bike Crossing Estate of Carolee Bacon Davis Else Partners Keith Ferguson Richard M. Fountain



HUB International Leila and Sam Lane Madison Charitable Foundation Mary Ann McCarty Dick Molpus Foundation Sara and Bill Ray Karen Skeen Donna E. Roberts


$5,000 - $24,999 Carol H. Allen Pattie and Gary Armstrong Dea Dea and Dolph Baker Joseph C. Bancroft Charitable Foundation Barefield Workplace Solution Lori and Chris Blount Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Melissa and Si Bondurant Jean Turner Brewer J. A. “Army” Brown Brunini, Grantham, Grower & Hewes Maralyn Bullion C.W. Caldwell Canizaro Cawthon Davis Architects Sally and Charles Carmichael Richard Cowart Elizabeth Daniels Bettie and Gene Delcomyn Nora and Tam Etheridge First Commercial Bank Alan Freeland, MD Kathy and Don Flynt Susan and Nick Greco Grenfell Sledge & Stevens Handicapable Vans Steele and Bob Hardeman Hawe Yeu Incorporated Ann and Henry Holifield Sandra and Matt Holleman Shan and Steve Hope Horne CPAs and Business Advisors Robbie Hughes Tish and Haden Hughes International Business Machines Stuart C. Irby Rachel and Joe Jacobson Seymour Johnson Hardy Jones James R. Keenan

Marcia King Kitty and Ed Kossman LogoStoreUSA Betty and Charlie Lott Dorothy L. Mahaffey James M. Malloy May and Company Merrill Lynch & Co. Foundation John R. McCarty Katie Rose McClendon Nora Frances and Vaughan McRae James L. McRae Mid-State Construction Beverly Y. Milam Marcia and John Mixon MMI Dining Systems Mobility Medical Beverly and Joe Morette Jim Palmer Lisa and Lee Paris Rose and Henry Paris Melissa and David Patterson Michael Reddix, MD Julius M. Ridgway Bobbi and Dave Robinson Estate of George H. Robinson Helen and Nat Rogers Katie R. Saliba Dr. Conrad and Kelly Woodfield Sevier Robert Smith, MD Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company SSS Foundation Sharon Woodfield Steel Lisa and John Stevens Patti and Jerry Sullivan Worth H. Thomas Thompson Charitable Endowment Fund Jackie and Faser Triplett, MD Trustmark National Bank Thomas A. Turner III Rahul Vohra, MD Nell and Ed Wall Alan Walters William S. Ware Marsha and Terry Wells Elizabeth White Amy Lyles Wilson Kevin Wilson Wise Carter Child & Caraway Sam E. and Bernice C. Wittel Foundation Marion R. Wofford, MD

RESEARCH FELLOWS $1,000- $4,999 AGC Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Fund Atmos Energy Chris Ayers Baptist Health Systems Family and Friends of Tony Bates Drs. David and Gemma Beckley Elton G. Beebe Carl P. Bernet, MD Charles Berry Biggs, Ingram & Solop Crisler and Doug Boone Gerald Bowles Richard Brand Jack R. Branning Charlene Bryant Roberta H. Burda Randa Buster Chris Carmichael James M. Chandler Dr. and Mrs. Ching J. Chen Dr. John Chow John M. Christian Susan Christensen Kay and Ken Clark James H. Clayton David C. Collipp, MD Corporate Benefits C Spire Foundation Betsy S. Creekmore Meredith and James Creekmore Cups, an Espresso Café Custom Medical Solutions Mrs. Robert V. Donley Deveaux Duckworth Mary Lynn and Bob Dunaway Pamela B. and Larry W. Edwards Fred Farrell Rev. Bert Felder Allison Fracchia Gerald Garnett Gentiva Home Health Ginny Ray and Charlotte Smith Real Estate George Gober Suzy Gonzales Judy and Dan Grafton Barbara A. Griffin Drs. Patti and Leon Grigoryev Samuel Grissom, MD Robert V. M. Harrison Susie Haseloff

Kenneth W. Helton Peggy Hemphill Dr. Robert Hirko Diane and J. L. Holloway Charla Howard Glynn Hughes Sue and Robert Jacobs Alyson Jones, MD Henry J. Jones Lona and Bennett J. Johnson Sue and Otis Johnson J’s Mobility Unlimited Kelly Kennedy Mrs. Albert R. King Dr. William L. Kopp Donald K. Krecker Kristos Elizabeth Lampley Sam M. Lane, Jr. Mary K. Lee Juanita Lester Rev. Dr. Giles Lindley Deneise T. Lott Lucian A. Harvey, Jr. and Jerri Jeter Harvey Foundation John Lovorn Donna Lyon Susan and Larry Marquez Mary G. McKee Terri S. McKie Merrill Lynch Dean Miller Mississippi Brain and Spine Mississippi Federal Credit Union Mary Ethel and Roger Muns National Seating and Mobility Kerry Nations Ottobock Palmer Foundation Zoraya Parrilla, MD Cheryl and Neal Patton Thomas G. Peaster Permobil John F. Phillips Vernon Pleasant Sandra and Frank E. Polanski C. Mike Quick Dorothy and R. Miller Reid Wells P. Richards Peggy and Robert Rives, MD E. B. (Bud) Robinson Anne W. Rogers Sanderson Farms Steven W. Sansom Douglas A. Simpson Skeen Plumbing and Gas T. Mark Sledge Lottie Smith Southern Bancorp Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company St. Dominic Health Services Laura and Frank P. Stainback III, MD Jacqueline M. Stahlman State Bank & Trust Company James H. Stewart, Jr.

Dobrivoje Stokic, MD Jan and Mike Sturdivant Bettye Y. Sullivan Telephone Electronics Corporation (TEC) Trane Service Agency Terry Service, Inc. Anne R. Thompson Terrell E. Wise and Eloise D. Wise Foundation Sarah D. Thomsen Ancel C. Tipton, MD Helen O. Tolleson James P. Totten Family Foundation Lori Towery Tammy and Eddie Voynik Mark J. Wakefield Walker Foundation Harry M. Walker Walmart Distribution Center Brookhaven Walmart Clinton Robert H. Weaver Jean and John Webb Mary Ann Webb Susan and Walter S. Weems Cheryl and Cal Wells Elizabeth M. White Sue and Jerry D. Whitt Aven Whittington, Jr. Kathryn Wiener Lois and James Willis Mary and Jesse L. Wofford, MD Mary and Wirt A. Yerger, Jr. Camie and Paul Young


Gifts up to $999 received since the 2017 edition of Ways & Means A&A Home Health Laurie Adams Elizabeth Alexander Patricia Alexander Laura Alford Benjamin W. Allen Allstate Giving Campaign Lily Andries Robert J. Arnold Kevin Anthony Charlie Baglan & Associates Heather Bailey Patricia Baird Mollie Baker Bank of America Geraldine Barber Emily S. Barfield Janet Barnes Christopher W. Baughman Ruth C. Bell Betty M. Benton Robbie H. Berry Homer Best Carol Black Earl Blackmon Dr. Phillip Blount

D. and Mrs. W. H. Boggan Laurie Bogue W. R. Boone Opal Bowlin Amber Brady Jodi M. Brantley Susan Brennan Broadmoor Mini Storage Nancy C. Brock A. Brooks Rebecca Broome Alexis S. Brown Adrienne Brumfield Shamara Bridges Sheila Bridges Charles D. Brister Brown Bottling Group Kenneth Buford Katherine V. Burke Dana Butler Brandi Byrnes Alexa R. Cacibauda Rose Cacibauda Michelle A. Calabrese Becky Cameron Joy and Don Cannada William T. Carr Cynthia Carter Larkin Carter Scott Catington Jacob C. Christian John B. Clark Linda G. Clark Gwen W. Cole Karen L. Cole Kimberly Cole Melanie Cole Meredith Cole R. Z. Coleman Mr. and Mrs. William (Bill) G. Cook Elizabeth Copeland Bess Corbitt Erin Corrigan Sandra L. Cothern Helen W. Craig Mr. and Mrs. William Lee Crim, Jr. Pam Culberson Sandy Culver Allen Cunningham Ann B. Dale Kelly Daniels Eleanor B. Dauenhauer Martha Davis Patrick R. Davis Charles Deavers Amy Dempsey John Dennery Terri Deviney Karreen DeWeese Betsy and Kane Ditto Edwin Dodd Judith L. Douglas Lauren Douglass Lauren Dukes Dunbar Monroe, PLLC Charles M. Dunn Brad Dye

Dawn Dyess Tammy Dyess Ruth Edmiston Andrew Edwards Erin Edwards El Ranchito Peggy and James Michael Ely Barbara England Kim Erickson John R. Evans LaCrystal Evans Virginia Ezelle Lauren Fairburn Brenda Ferguson Mark Fields Charlotte Fitzgerald Fleet Feet Sports Lillian Floyd Bethany E. Foote Steve Friend Keith Frost Lana E. Fuqua Lynn Gaddis Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church Del Garber Susan Geiger Dean Gerber Vickie Gerrard John Gibson Jan and Roger Gilbert Robert “Bob” Gilstrap Allen W. Glisson Debbie Glorioso Brian Gough Phillip L. Grady Martha Grace Gray Byron Greco Corey Griffin Carol Grubbs Pam Guevara David Guzman Anthony D. Haines Patricia Hammons Edwina M. Harden Deloris Yates Harris Donna Harris Elizabeth Hays Karen L. Heinlein Audrey T. Hildebrand Jane M. Hildebrand James Henderson B. M. Hilton Jennifer and Wilson Holifield Sondra S. Holman Charles W. Holmes Miller Holmes Stephanie Holt Hometown Healthcare Katy Houston Nikki Howell Tony Huffman HUT-TIG Building Products Kaitlin Ingram Rebecca Ingram John Irby LaKeysha Greer Isaac



Sandy Isbell Walter Jackson Rosanne S. James Pam Jeffries Alison Johnson Brenda Jenkins Laurdes Johnson Whit Johnson Thomas Johnston Ashley Jolly Christopher W. Jones Jane Jones Sheila and Dr. Les Jones Renee S. Jones Shirley N. Jones Virden C. Jones JOY Group, Christ UMC Debra M. Keller Kathy S. Kendrick Carolyn Kennedy Diane Kersh Lenora Keys Pam Kilby Shona S. Killough Daniel K. Kim Edra Kimmel Karen and Lance Klein Catherine Klipple Kimberly Kosharek Laura E. Kuhn Alfred Kuhnert Amy Lane Ben Lane Christina Lane Linda M. Lane John and Linda Lange William E. Lawson Carolyn Leach-Gravier Richard F. Lefoldt Philip Levin Harvey S. Lewis and Di Ann Lewis Howard G. Lewis Nijah Lewis Penny Liebsack Hubert Lipe William E. Loper III, M.D. Jerry W. Long Jane Lord Mariano Loret de Mola Joe Lutz Elizabeth A. Lyle Tommy Lyle Sudhakar Madakasira Patsy Malouf Dorothy J. Manning Lelia Manning Allen F. Martin Leonard C. Martin Bruce Massey R. Chad Matthews Sandra F. Matthews Whitney Maxwell James and Meredith May Lyle McAllister Tinicia McAllister Martha McBee Lyn and David McClendon



Devere McClennan H. W. (Woodie) McDuffie Rosemary and Rev. David McIntosh Janna McIntosh Larry McKnight Cameron McPhaul Michael T. McRee Brandon Meeks Ashley Meena Kimberly Meints Christy Miller Jim Miller John N. C. Moffitt Renee and Scott Morgan R. D. Morrow Bertram S. Mortimer James Mosley Denise and Bill Mounger Sally Molpus Betty Murphrey Robert Murphree David Nations Evan Nicolosi Ed D. Noble Nicole Noone Angie Norphlet Julie and Mike O’Brien Virginia O’Connell Powell G. Ogletree Kenneth O’Keefe Martha Odom Open Doors Class, Christ UMC Peggie B. Orey F. Ralph Owens, Jr. Patricia Oyarce Don Parsons George Patton Bridgett Pelts Joan M. Pepper Bonnie Perry Pfizer Foundation Matching Gifts Program Joan M. Perry Virginia N. Persons W. L. Phillips, Jr. James Pinnix Lillian Pope John Pope Olivia Posey Don Potts John L. Prichard MaryJo Pride Don Primos Anthony T. Puckett Caryn Quilter Betty H. Quinn Welissa Rader James B. Randall Joe D. Rankin Nicky K. Ray Patricia Redditt Hugh C. Redhead Karen Redhead Barbara Redmont Revell Hardware Michelle T. Reza Elizabeth Rich

Jeff L. Rickels Richard L. Ridgway Ann Ritchie Spencer Ritchie River Hills Bank Ellen Robb Kimberly W. Roberts Bouncer Robinson James L Robinson and Linda A. Thompson Robinson Robert S. Rogers Dario Rosa Lindsey Rowe Cathy Russell Shona Williamson Satterfield Mark Saxon Dr. Ann Schimmel Ellnora Schliesser Robby Scucchi Megan Sepehri William E. Shanks Kathleene Shapley Brian and Stephanie Shaw Katy Shearer Robert D. Shelton Cora Shott Norman C. Shotts James D. Shows Joel Shows Jan Jones Shultz Lisa Siddall Donna and Brian Sims Anna Skeen Emily Skeen Ricky E. Skeen Donald Sloan Patsy and Jerry Smith Mary Smith Mercedes Smith Connie Snow Cassandra Sojourner Martha O. Sorey Robert Soukup W. C. Spencer Nancy Stark Debbie Stewart Bill and Gayla Stone Janes A. Streets Mary J. Sutliff James Swanner Gail and John Sweat Anna and Justin Sypult Dr. Keith Tansey Charles Taylor David M. Temple Craig Tetrick Patsy J. Thaggard Brenda Thames William F. Thayer Angela Thomas Terry D. Thomas Hazel B. Thornton Robert and Julie Tullos Pam and Jon Turner Linda Tynes Laura M. Vandevender William S. VanZandt

Lori Verhage Olivia Waddell Tom Wagner Chris Wallace Roosevelt Wallace Walmart – Flowood Walmart - Jackson Laura Walters Becky Watkins Merry Claire Wardlaw Watson Quality Ford Tina Weaver Jonni R. Webb Mary A. Webb Whataburger Elizabeth M. White Hannah White Gray Wiggers Cindy P. Wilson Ellis Wilson Dr. James Wofford Judi Williams Martha B. Williams Otis J. Williams Robert P. Williams Virginia Williamson Brenda Willis Ellis Wilson Trish and Kenny Windham Heather Wise James Wofford John Wooley Elton Wright Deloris Yates-Harris Amy and Press York Alex Zhu John Zupko


Mark Adams Given by R. Hardy Jones III Mr. and Mrs. Bill Allen Given by Kitty and Ed Kossman Vince Barber Given by Geraldine Barber Rev. Henry Blount Given by Dick Molpus Chris Blount Given by Paul Young Karen and Pat Biglane Given by Jacqueline M. Stahlman Annie Cassie Given by Ann Schimmel, M.D. Dr. John Chow Given by Charles M. Dunn Sudhakar Madakasira Dr. Deaver Collins Given by Jacqueline M. Stahlman Dr. and Mrs. Culver Craddock Given by Kitty and Ed Kossman Rabbi and Mrs. Harry Danziger Given By Kitty and Ed Kossman Mr. and Mrs. Lephiew Dennington Given by Kitty and Ed Kossman Ginny Duke Given by John Pope

Brenda Fletcher Given by Rosemary and Rev. David McIntosh Judith Flechas Given by Jacqueline M. Stahlman Helen Flowers Given by Jacqueline M. Stahlman Steve Friend Given by Dr. Alan E. Freeland The Honorable David Gillison Given by Kitty and Ed Kossman Nathan Goss Given by Nancy B. Thomas Amy and Henry D. Granberry III Given by Ann and Henry Holifield Virginia Wilson Mounger Mr. and Mrs. Ben Hawkins Given by Kitty and Ed Kossman Karen Heinlein Given by Nancy B. Myers Dr. and Mrs. John Hilpert Given by Kitty and Ed Kossman Ann and Henry Holifield Given by Virginia Wilson Mounger Amy Lyles Wilson Mr. and Mrs. Bill Holleman & Family Given by Matthew and Sandra Holleman Kathy Holmes Given by Robbie H. Berry Mr. Charles Holmes Given by Kitty and Ed Kossman Anne and Charles Hooker Given by Mr. And Mrs. W. G. (Bill) Cook Ed D. Noble Hannah Howard Given by John Pope Elizabeth Hust Given by Robbie H. Berry Kaitlyn Ingram Given by Nancy B. Thomas Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Jacks Given by Kitty and Ed Kossman Luly Johnson Given by Alexis S. Brown Ed and Joanne Jones Given by Eleanor B. Dauenhauer Mr. and Mrs. Henry J. Jones Given by Jan J. Shultz Dr. Howard T. Katz Given by Kay Clark Miss Jan Klein Given by Kitty and Ed Kossman Kitty and Ed Kossman Given by Mrs. Jane Lord F. Ralph Owens President and Mrs. Bill LaForge Given by Kitty and Ed Kossman Bonnie Lahuta Given by Vickie Gerrard Dr. Judith LaMarche and Dr. Robert Stainback Given by Dr. And Mrs. Frank P. Stainback III Janet C. Lampton

Given by Julie O’Brien Sam Lane Given by Kevin Anthony Cheryl and Cal Wells Sam E. and Burnice C. Wittel Foundation Jacob Long Given by Robbie H. Berry Jane Lord Given by Kitty and Ed Kossman Stephanie Lynchard Given by Patricia Barnett Mrs. Leo Martin Given by C. Mike Quick Denise Martin Given by Paul E. Sheffield Finas Mathews Given by Pam Kilby Nicole Marquez Given by Susan Marquez Susan Marquez (Facebook Fundraiser) Given by Linda Ross Aldy Chris Blount Don Eggdorf Whit Geary Walt Grayson Dal Garber Robin Hart Suzanne Henley Renee Hood Lori Hoepner Kathy Howington Roseann James Melanie Johnston Sarah Jordan Juanita Lester Jeremy Luckett Cindy McGraw Su McLain Elizabeth Robinson Paul Scott Rosemary Steinback Marilyn Trainor Story Jackie Tatum Natalia Trotter Connie Tuttle Brenda Varner Jonni Webb Nancy Kay Wessman Emily R. McDaniel Given by James H. Clayton Diane McDowell Given by James B. Randall Cassie Means Given by Ann Schimmel, M.D. Bill Means Given by Dr. and Mrs. Frank P. Stainback III Dr. Mark Meeks Given by James B. Randall MRC Brain Injury Floor Given by Patti Drapala MRC Board of Trustees Given by Sandra and Matt Holleman MRC 6th Floor Staff and

Therapists Given by Shirley A. Myers Dean Miller Given by Cheryl and Cal Wells Sam E. and Bernice C. Wittel Foundation Dean Miller and Peggy Prenshaw Miller Given by Christy Miller Mr. and Mrs. Ned Mitchell Given by Kitty and Ed Kossman Bill Mixon Given by Dr. and Mrs. Frank P. Stainback III Virginia Wilson Mounger Given by Robert J. Arnold Ann Wilson Holifield Denise and Bill Mounger Robin and Dalton Mounger Amy Lyles Wilson Cheryl and Cal Wells Sam E. and Bernice C. Wittel Foundation Teresa Myers Given by Nancy B. Thomas Julie and Mike O’Brien Given by Janet C. Lampton Open Door Class at Christ UMC Father David O’Conner Given by Jacqueline M. Stahlman Bessie Patrick Given by Mr. and Mrs. W. M. Patrick Jim Phyfer Given by David Donald Bernita Qualls Given by George C. Johnson Carol Kelley Kaitlin Roxie Quick Given by George C. Johnson Ernie Theriot Nancy B. Thomas Dr. Robert Ragan Given by Kitty and Ed Kossman Corinne Reymond Given by Lori Blount Dr. and Mrs. Mike Robbins Given by Kitty and Ed Kossman Mr. and Mrs. Mike Sanders Given by Kitty and Ed Kossman Ann Schimmel, M.D. Given by Virginia Ezelle Susan Hart Audrey T. Hildebrand Elizabeth A. Lyle Sally Molpus Mrs. Hugh C. Redhead Robby Scucchi Given by JOY - Christ UMC Russell Sheffield Given by Judi Williams Karen Skeen Given by Allstate Giving Campaign Carol Black Dawn Dyess Kim Erickson Mark Fields Tony Huffman

Kerry Nations Anna Skeen Revell Hardware Elton Wright Mrs. George Slade Given by Kitty and Ed Kossman Mrs. Marie Smith Given by Sandra and Matt Holleman Alan and Sussane Stahlman Given by Jacqueline M. Stahlman Mr. and Mrs. David Stainback Given by Dr. and Mrs. Frank P. Stainback III Anna Clair Steel Given by Sharon W. and Jim Steel Patti and Jerry Sullivan Given by Frank and Sandra Polanski Ann Swartzfager Given by Ms. M. F. O’Neal Sarah Teasley Given by Jacqueline M. Stahlman Mrs. Sally Templin Given by Shona Satterfield Lori Tillemans Given by Jacqueline M. Stahlman Thomas A. Turner III Given by Jean Turner Brewer Dr. and Mrs. Jon Tyson Given by Kitty and Ed Kossman Mr. and Mrs. William S. Ware and Family Given by Sandra and Matt Holleman Dr. and Mrs. Ricky Wayne Given by Kitty and Ed Kossman Mr. and Mrs. Bob Wilbanks Given by Kitty and Ed Kossman Wilson Research Foundation Board of Governors Given by Sandra and Matt Holleman Amy Lyles Wilson Given by Kathy Tompkins Amy Lyles Wilson and Henry Granberry Given by Ann Wilson Holifield Ginny Wilson Mounger Ann Wilson Holifield and Ginny Wilson Mounger Given by Amy Lyles Wilson The Earl Wilson Family Given by Margaret Krause Virginia Wilson Mounger Dr. and Mrs. Kent Wyatt Given by Kitty and Ed Kossman Wirt A. Yerger III Given by Tammy Dyess Mary L. Young Given by Lorraine J. Davenport Mr. and Mrs. Chris Youtz Given by Matt and Sandra Holleman




Walk&Roll Annual Benefit for The Wilson Research Foundation

Results of the 2017 Walk & Roll: Gold Sponsors: Barefield Workplace Solutions, Ergon, First Commercial Bank, Handicapable Vans, Horne LLP, HUB International (formerly Fox Everett), J’s Mobility, LogoStoreUSA, MidState Construction, Mississippi Brain & Spine (Dr. Orhan Ilercil), Permobil and Walmart (Clinton, Jackson, Flowood and Brookhaven.) Silver Sponsors: Blue Cross & Blue Shield MS, Canizaro-Cawthon-Davis Architects, Cups, Mississippi Federal Credit Union and National Seating & Mobility. Bronze Sponsors: A&A Home Health Equipment, BankPlus, Baptist Health Systems Foundation, Biggs Ingram & Solop, Broadmoor Mini Storage, Brunini Law Firm, Fleet Feet, Hederman Brothers, Hometown Healthcare, Masonite/Huttig Building Products, MMI Dinning Systems, Mobility Medical, Ossur, Paula and Randy James, Primo’s Café, Quantum Rehab, Southern Bancorp, St. Dominic Health Services, State Bank & Trust, Terry Trane Service Agency, The Bike Crossing, Trustmark, Whataburger and the Wittel Foundation.


Rodney Wade Adams Given by Tish and Haden Hughes Kitty and Ed Kossman Marilyn Blount Given by Chris Blount Dick Molpus Becky Watkins Sally and Charles Carmichael Given by Gina and Mark Adams Mrs. William C. Brewer Mr. and Mrs. James Michael Ely Mr. and Mrs. Henry Holifield Mrs. W. Henry Holman, Jr. Terri S. McKie Lyn and David McMillin Mr. and Mrs.Charles Taylor Susan and Walter Weems Mr. and Mrs. Wirt A. Yerger, Jr. Bonnie and Gray Wiggers Mr. Ronald J. Cockayne, Sr. Given by MMI Dining Systems Sherry Felder Given by Jan and Mike Sturdivant



E. B. (Bud) Robinson Nolan Franks Given by Pam Kilby Elise Pate Glisson Given by Allen W. Glisson, Jr. Sylvia C. Hall Given by Si and Melissa Bondurant Vickie Smith Holmes Given by Miller Holmes Richard Hunter Given by Martha B. Williams Ed S. Kossman, Jr. Given by Mark Adams Christine Carmichael Charles W. Holmes Juanita Lester Jane Lord Mike Sturdivant, Jr. Bettye Y. Sullivan Duane Liebsack Given by Shona S. Killough Eleanor Lipnicky Given by Nancy Stark Mr. Bennie Lyles, Jr. Given by Mrs. Arretta R. Lyles

Top Fundraising Teams: • Rowdy Rehabers, $14,545 • Team Outpatient, $11,509 • Team Wilson, $9,360 • Team Sam, $9,015 • Team Karen, $6,650 • Methodist O&P, $2,495 • Team Specialty Care, $2,378 • Rehab Rafters, $1,415 • Record Team, $1,224 • Movin’ & Groovin’, $1,032 • Team Nicole, $750 • Kappa Sigma Alumni, $450


Visit for more details on the Walk & Roll.

Amy N. Mather Given by Susan Brennan Mr. H. F. McCarty, Jr. Given by Patti and Jerry M. Sullivan Elizabeth K. McLendon Given by Frank and Laura Stainback Spencer O’Brien Given by Julie and Mike O’Brien Open Doors Class at Christ UMC Louise Peden Given by Harvey S. Lewis and Di Ann Lewis Aubrey Price Given by Shona S. Killough Sammy Shute Given by Diane Kersh Sarah M. Spencer Given by W. C. Spencer Kenneth W. Stewart Given by Pam Kilby Howard E. Stover Given by Melissa and Si Bondurant Dr. Faser Triplett Given by Diane and J. L. Holloway

Jean U. Webb and John H. Webb Given by Mary A. Webb Cole Wilson Given by Anne R. Thompson Earl R. and Martha Lyles Wilson Given by Lori and Chris Blount Maralyn Bullion Mr. and Mrs. William L. Crim, Jr. Sara and Bill Ray Hazel B. Thornton Robert P. Williams Cheryl and Cal Wells Sam E. and Bernice C. Whittel Foundation Mary and Dr. Jesse (Bud) Wofford Given by Gina and Mark Adams Dr. Marion Wofford Clyde Woodfield Given by Conrad and Kelly Woodfield Sevier Michael Woodfield Given by Conrad and Kelly Woodfield Sevier Sharon W. Steel

Now walk I can... my daughter down the aisle

After a debilitating boating accident, Dan Smith of Madison County had to make quick work of his recovery. His daughter, Sarah, was getting married in less than seven weeks. And he was determined to be by her side. “Any father wants his daughter’s wedding day to be just like she wants it,” said the lawyer for the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office. “And she was pretty intent on me participating as best I could.” An occupational therapist for Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson, Miss., Sarah knew her father would benefit from MRC’s expertise treating patients with traumatic injuries. And eight days after entering MRC, Smith was well enough to escort Sarah down the aisle with the aid of a walker. The moment meant “everything,” Sarah said. And don’t think Dad didn’t realize as much. “It was one of my motivations for trying to get better,” he said.

Nationally recognized for expertise in rehabilitation medicine after a stroke, spinal cord injury, brain injury or amputation.

For more information, visit or call 601-364-3434 or toll-free 1-800-223-6672, ext. 3434.

1350 East Woodrow Wilson Jackson, MS 39216

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Ways & Means Winter 2018  
Ways & Means Winter 2018  

2018 edition of Ways & Means, Methodist Rehabilitation Center's annual magazine detailing the hospital's latest news and patient success sto...