“They have never, ever given up on me. They don’t give up on anybody. The equipment they have; the resources they have – I mean they are just incredible.”
- Colby Johnson, Patient with Spinal Cord Injury - Omaha, Neb.
Colby Johnson was celebrating Independence Day 2010 at a family outing when a shallow water diving accident left him helpless in the water. “I pleaded with God to let me see my wife Jo one more time,” said the 35-year-old from Omaha, Neb. Tests at the hospital revealed an incomplete spinal cord injury that left Colby paralyzed from the neck down. Four days after the accident, Colby began rehabilitation at Madonna. “My goals were to sit up, move my arms, feed myself and eventually walk again,” said Colby. His Madonna team introduced him to technology like the Lokomat and FES Bike and Ekso GT Robotic Exoskeleton, a wearable bionic suit. Currently, he is able to walk independently with crutches.
“The first word that comes to mind is awesome. Madonna has given us our daughter back.”
- Stacy Felker, Mother of 5-year-old Molly, Patient with Traumatic Brain Injury - Omaha, Neb.
Molly Felker is a five-year-old with a beautiful smile. At home in 2012, Molly was eating lunch with her family at home in Omaha, Neb., when she choked on a hot dog. The choking accident resulted in a traumatic brain injury from lack of oxygen. Molly arrived at Madonna with a trach, feeding tube and wheelchair, as well as muscle spasms that racked her body. Through speech therapy, sensory stimuli in the Snoezelen Room and therapy that ranged from dress up to the FES Bike and the Lokomat, Molly’s therapists at Madonna helped her return to her loving family. “It’s been a journey of tears, laughter and hope,” said her mom Stacy.
“The staff at Madonna filled me with hope and convinced me I could live again.”
- John Dunning, Patient with Traumatic Brain Injury - Wayne, Neb.
A violent EF4 tornado crossed John Dunning’s path as he drove home from a business trip. Pelted by flying debris, John suffered multiple fractures, lacerations and a traumatic brain injury. After surviving a coma, surgery, skin grafts and weeks of hospitalization at Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City, Iowa, John tackled four months of rehab at Madonna. With his outgoing personality, John easily bonded with staff and other patients. Gratitude and humor propelled his recovery. John returned to his role as chief information officer at Wayne State College with a renewed spirit.
“I was impressed with how much everybody cared. They didn’t just care about getting me out the door, they cared about getting me back to what I used to do.”
- Gary Hausmann, Patient with Traumatic Brain Injury - Blair, Neb.
Gary Hausmann, chief commercial pilot for Werner Enterprises, has savored life from the cockpit of an airplane for most of his life. In September 2006, he was riding his motorcycle home to Blair, Neb., from the hangar in Omaha when a rear-ended car slid into his path. The helmeted 51-year-old sustained injuries including broken spinal vertebrae and a severe traumatic brain injury. Gary was admitted to Madonna in a wheelchair and speaking very little, but “I didn’t understand the meaning of the word ‘can’t’,” said Gary. Thanks to intensive physical and occupational therapy, Gary was able to regain his pilot's license and return to his life role.
“His goal was to walk out of here, and he told me that up front from the beginning. He was very ready to get to work and highly motivated. He just looked at the positive of everything.”
- Kathy Sievers, Physical Therapist
A carefree spring day turned into months of rehabilitation for Brad Galles. While riding an all-terrain vehicle in Okoboji, Iowa, Brad's ATV rolled on top him, severely damaging his spinal cord and breaking his back. After surgery at Avera McKennan in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, doctors doubted he would walk again. A month into his rehab at Madonna, Brad took his first steps aided by sessions in the aquatic therapy pool. The 41-year-old plant manager for Wells Enterprises’ ice cream plant in LeMars, Iowa, had coworkers, friends and family rooting for him. Brad powered through therapy and selflessly encouraged other patients in their recoveries. After 11 weeks, Brad walked out of Madonna to a surprise send-off from supporters wearing shirts emblazoned with his motto “Galles Strong.”
“Everyone said Madonna was THE place to go for rehabilitation.”
- Lindsay Ptacek, Patient with Spinal Cord Injury - Waterloo, Neb.
Lindsay Ptacek was on her way to join family for a camping trip in September 2011 when a deer jumped in front of her car and sent the working wife and mother rolling into a ravine. The immediate impact followed by hours of lying in the crashed vehicle resulted in an incomplete spinal cord injury, compartment syndrome and burns on Lindsay’s legs. After months of wound healing at Madonna, Lindsay moved to Madonna’s Acute Rehabilitation unit where she regained much of her independence. Lindsay learned the benefits of adaptive physical fitness through use of a hand cycle. "It is fun, and I still get to bike with my kids."
“Huxley is a pint-sized fireball whose spunky personality lifted her through big-time challenges while giving her therapists some challenges too! It was a victory for all with every step Huxley took in her journey to return home.”
- Pam Daly, Respiratory Therapist
Huxley Roza is an outgoing preschooler who loves ballerina tutus, riding her scooter and playing outdoors. In October 2013, a stroke stole Huxley’s energetic spirit and nearly took her life. Following surgery at Children’s Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska, to remove blood clots in her brain stem, the youngster was on a tracheotomy and feeding tube. At Madonna, Huxley relearned to swallow, talk and be a kid again. “The goal was to get Huxley back to her normal, active self,” said her mother, Mikki. Training with a Passy-Muir Valve® attached to Huxley’s trach gradually enabled the little girl to speak. “Hearing her voice for the first time was amazing,” said Mikki. Three months later, Miss Huxley returned home not only walking, but skipping, laughing and full of life.
“It’s not just physical ability that allows a person to excel in adaptive sports. It’s having a positive attitude and the drive to improve that fosters success. Dylan possesses both of those qualities and his future is shining bright.”
- Rick Haith, Recreation Therapist and Adaptive Sports Coordinator
After surviving a car accident in May 2014, Dylan Wells posted a message on his Facebook page: “Just one of God’s many new challenges for me today. I got in a wheelchair.” Despite a paralyzing spinal cord injury, Dylan remained open-minded and eagerly participated in therapies to regain his independence. The recreational therapy team exposed him to a myriad of adaptive sports. A year later, Dylan gripped a walker across the stage to accept his high school diploma. Dylan is a freshman exercise science major at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, with plans to attend orthotics school. He doesn’t let paralysis deter his athletic pursuits. Dylan referees and runs the clock at intramural sporting events and participates in adaptive rock climbing and tennis.