Puts the most advanced technology behind rebuilding lives.
When a loved one is faced with a brain or spinal cord injury, know that you have Madonna, the only hospital in the Midwest specializing solely in rehabilitation. Here, with our advanced technology and expert care, we take on the toughest cases and still deliver the best outcomes.
Six-year-old Jaylaa Summers is like the Energizer Bunny – she’s always on the go. Her parents, B.J. and April, sensed something was wrong when their active daughter became lethargic and couldn’t walk or talk normally. “It was hard to watch; Jaylaa’s one of the most energetic kids,” said B.J.
After several trips to the emergency room and a battery of tests, doctors at Children’s Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska, diagnosed Jaylaa with walking pneumonia that led to encephalitis. Jaylaa’s cerebellum, the area of her brain responsible for controlling muscle coordination, became inflamed.
“She couldn’t stand, grasp anything and barely spoke,” said April.
At Madonna, Jaylaa’s team designed a challenging program of physical, occupational and speech therapy for the young girl. Teachers in the Therapeutic Learning Center helped the first grader stay on track with her schoolwork from Mount View Elementary. Games on an iPad improved Jaylaa’s short term memory, cognition and speech. Standing on the Proprio 4000, a circular training platform, moving beneath her feet, challenged her balance. Jaylaa worked diligently and flashed her trademark smile throughout her recovery.
Within five weeks, Jaylaa showed off her gross motor skills, kicking a ball aided by customized orthotics, adorned with her favorite cartoon character, Tweety Bird. She eats and drinks normally, can solve a simple math problem and carry on a conversation.
Jaylaa is excited to return home for the holiday and hunt Easter eggs with her cousins. Her parents are grateful to see her spirited energy return. “Jaylaa came a long way from where she started,” said April.
See Jaylaa's story on KETV: Easter homecoming for Omaha girl
Rylan Engelke hit a home run in a September baseball game and had no problem rounding the bases. Two days later, eight-year-old Rylan became ill and during his hospitalization, his legs and feet swelled. The mysterious illness caused nerve and muscle damage to Rylan’s lower limbs that resulted in paralysis. Losing his mobility was devastating to the active third grader.
Rylan’s Madonna team became his coaches and cheerleaders. They devised a game plan of intense, specialized rehabilitation for the young athlete. Rylan’s parents, Jennifer and Johnnie, and his three siblings, marked each milestone .The Lokomat®, challenged Rylan’s legs with robot-assisted walking therapy on a treadmill. After six weeks, a physically stronger Rylan was standing independently.
Today, Rylan is back home in Omaha, Nebraska and enjoying classes at Morton Elementary School. Rylan overcame every obstacle during his recovery and adopted confidence and self-esteem as badges of courage. Most importantly, he’s back in game – of life and baseball. “I will forever be grateful to the Madonna staff for helping Rylan,” said Jennifer.
Grant Wahlgren is a six-year-old who resides on a farm in Gothenburg, Nebraska. He loves firefighters, riding horses, hunting, and playing with his three brothers, Casey, Reid and Seth. Grant was born with spina bifida and has subsequent paralysis of his lower extremities. Grant primarily uses a wheelchair to keep up with his brothers and friends. The first grader’s desire to walk in certain settings led his parents, Ross and Suzie, to outpatient therapy at Alexis Verzals Children's Rehabiliation Hospital within Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital.
Throughout his life, Grant has received many different therapies, but Madonna is different. This was apparent upon his first visit - Grant enjoys therapy now. The family makes the weekly three hour trip to Lincoln so Grant can receive physical, occupational and recreational therapies. The relationships Grant has formed with staff, like Rick Haith, recreational therapist (in photo), are an added bonus. Also in a wheelchair, watching an adult like Rick is priceless for Grant. “As a family, we have been greatly blessed by Madonna and everything they offer,” said Suzie.
A motorcycle accident on August 29, 2013, altered the course of Taylor Graham’s life. Cresting a hill on his bike, Taylor was surprised to see a van with no working tail lights. He quickly jammed on the brakes, causing his bike to skid 100 feet. Taylor went airborne and hit the van head first. His spinal cord was severely damaged, resulting in paralysis from the chest down.
At Madonna, Taylor is turning his life around. The 20-year-old traded his need for speed and substance abuse into regaining his independence. “I have a family at Madonna supporting me – you feel it,” said Taylor. The Ekso GT, a computerized bionic suit, is improving Taylor’s balance and strengthening his leg muscles. He recently celebrated walking 350 feet with two canes.
Taylor is ranked #1 in the Quad A wheelchair division of the United States Tennis Association. He has a deep appreciation for life. Taylor values his family and friends and his strong faith.
“God blessed me with the miracle of living, so I'm okay with any outcome” said Taylor. “I just want to pay it forward.”
Alex McKiernan is no stranger to hard work and he likes it that way. As co-owner of Robinette Farms in Martell, Nebraska, with his wife, Chloe, he is used to long hours and physical labor. Alex is also a volunteer firefighter who is trained to act in critical situations. On Jan. 7, 2014, all of Alex’s skills were tested when a distracted driver plowed into the back of his car at 60 mph.
The impact fractured Alex’s T11 vertebrae and damaged his spinal cord. “I had very little sensation from the waist down and no motor function in my legs,” said Alex, whose goal has always been a complete recovery. The 34-year-old husband and father of three, is gradually regaining his mobility at Madonna.
Therapists introduced Alex to specialized technology, like the FES bike, that provided electrical stimulation to his leg muscles. As Alex got stronger, the Lokomat®, a robotic walking machine, helped restore his natural gait. Five weeks after his accident Alex’s hands gripped a walker as he pieced together forty steps. As an outpatient, Alex used the
Ekso GT, a computerized bionic suit, which improved his balance and strengthened muscles. By spring, Alex walked using a cane for support and continues to work on his mobility in outpatient therapy.
Alex cherishes family time with his wife and three young daughters, and enjoys helping run their organic farm. Alex loves to learn and although he didn’t ask for this education, the experience has taught him much about life, love and happiness. “I have so many positive things in my life,” said Alex.
Tasha Hulstein was involved in a horrific car accident that injured her brain and almost took her life. Tasha was driving to meet friends when she hit an SUV nearly head-on. Paramedics had to extricate Tasha, finding her lifeless and barely breathing at the scene. After weeks of critical care, Tasha transferred to Madonna’s Long Term Care Hospital. “I knew Madonna would be the best place for Tasha,” said her mother, Gwen. The team at Madonna helped Tasha wean off the ventilator and find her voice.
As Tasha progressed, she began a rigorous daily routine of speech, occupational and physical therapies to regain her vocal and cognitive skills. Neuropsychology therapies, such as Brain HQ, a computer program, also challenged Tasha’s memory and problem solving with skill-specific games. With the support of her Madonna care team, family and friends, Tasha made steady gains. The 23-year-old discharged to home after three months of inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation.
This summer, Tasha married her longtime boyfriend, Corey, in a beautiful outdoor wedding. She is a skilled photographer and recently opened a studio in her hometown of Hull, Iowa. Tasha remains grateful for a second chance at life and considers each day a gift. “I am so blessed,” said Tasha. “I’m a stronger person. I know God has a plan for me.”