Monday, August 22, 2005

Donna Yeatman Brown

I was at a Sister Kenny clinic this morning getting some physical therapy done on a minor neck injury (compliments of the gym...proof I never should have attempted rigerous exercise!) On the wall in the waiting room was a beautiful oil painting of a frozen-over river in the wintertime. Next to the paining was a small bio of the artist. Here is what it said:

Donna Yeatman Brown
Council Bluffs, IA

Disabled since birth, Donna grasps paintbrushes between her elbows where her arms stop. Her disability affected both legs, also requiring her to use an artificial limb. She is married, has three daughters and does all her own cooking, cleaming, and shopping, drives a car, and does volunteer work for schools and Girl Scouts.

I was amazed. I presume Donna's painting was on the wall because she must have been enrolled in the Sister Kenny rehabilitation treatment program. Here is some history behind the program:

Did you know that Sister Kenny was not a nun? Elizabeth Kenny was born in Australia in 1880. She was trained as an army nurse and treated the sick for 31 years in the bushlands of Australia. She acquired the title "Sister" -- used in British countries for "nurse."

In 1911, when she encountered her first case of polio, Sister Kenny was unaware of conventional polio treatment -- immobilizing the affected muscles with splints. Instead, she used common sense and her understanding of anatomy to treat the symptoms of the disease. Sister Kenny applied moist hotpacks to help loosen muscles, relieve pain, and enable limbs to be moved, stretched, and strengthened. The theory of her treatment was muscle "re-education" -- the retraining of muscles so that they could function again.

In 1940, Sister Kenny traveled to the United States and eventually to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where, in 1942, the Sister Kenny Institute was established. Sister Kenny's pioneering principles of muscle rehabilitation became the foundation of physical therapy. Today, Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Services is one of the premier rehabilitation centers in the country, known for its progressive and innovative vision.

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