I received my bachelor's degree from Fort Hays State University in 2002, and during that time I worked with faculty there to begin a unique exercise program for stroke survivors. The research and exercise programming fostered my increasing interest in this field. But while I had a strong background in exercise physiology and cardiac rehabilitation, I did not fully understand the neurologic injury from the stroke. I wanted to learn more. One of the faculty at Fort Hays State was a physical therapist, and I found myself asking numerous questions.
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Once again, I took a huge gamble: I sold our home, uprooting my 2 kids from everything they knew, and began our first journey across Kansas. Our destination was the KU Medical Center and KU's joint Physical Therapy/Doctor of Philosophy degree program. By 2004, I had completed the physical therapy program, and in 2008 I earned my Ph.D. I now serve on the faculty at KU Medical Center as an assistant professor in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program. I also direct a research laboratory, the REACH lab, that focuses on exercise and recovery after stroke.
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Doctors said being healthy and active before my car accident helped my recovery and probably saved my life. Exercise has always been part of my lifestyle, and I hope it will always be. My son and I have been through a lot since 1993 and are embarking on this mission together, our Walk Across Kansas, for a second time. We're thankful for surviving almost 20 years ago. Now we hope to survive a new journey ... and in doing so inspire others to be physically active.
We want to be an example to encourage people to be physically active and support the Governor's challenge for healthier living in Kansas.
We encourage Kansans to increase their physical activity by walking, whether individually or in teams. And our hope is for people who don't participate in regular physical activity, they will join our efforts and begin walking for their health.
Visit the REACH Lab at the KU Medical Center to learn more about stroke research.