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Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

Madonna recreation therapy partners with ‘Spokes Fighting Strokes’ for adaptive cycling event

July 19, 2022

After a serious injury or illness, returning to beloved hobbies or finding new ones can be daunting. At Madonna, we strive to show our patients there is life after rehabilitation. That’s why Madonna’s adaptive sports and recreation therapy program partners with organizations like Spokes Fighting Strokes, to bring new and unique opportunities to return to a fun, fulfilling life.

Dozens of stroke survivors strapped on their helmets and took a spin on adaptive tricycles.

“I wasn’t sure what this was going to be today when I was invited to come, but I’m certainly glad I had the opportunity,” Bill Peterson, who survived a stroke in August 2021, said.

Spokes Fighting Strokes founder Dan Zimmerman knows what each of our patients is going through. In 2005, at just 41 years old, he survived a major stroke but lost his ability to walk or talk. Sixteen years later, he says he can’t spell, he talks funny and he walks funny, but he’s not letting those things slow him down.

“Doctors told me [a] wheelchair for life, no talking, so I listened to the doctors for four long years,” Dan said. “Gained 65 pounds, [that’s] no way to live my life. I got into trikes, and along the way, I started talking. Riding this trike for one year brought me back to talking.”

Now, he travels the country, presenting to other stroke survivors, brain injury survivors, people living with Parkinson’s and people living with multiple sclerosis. His hope is to connect with survivors in the months directly following their injury, so they don’t have to go through years of isolation like he did.

Dan connected with Amy Goldman, Madonna’s stroke program manager, to bring adaptive tricycles for inpatient and outpatient survivors to try out.

“It’s really neat for patients who are recovering from any type of injury like a stroke to realize what they can get back to,” Goldman said. “These adaptive trikes have given people so much hope and a lot of fun. And the biggest thing, the realization there’s so much life to live after their injury or illness.”

For Dan, it’s about regaining independence and showing others they can do the same.

“PT, OT, and speech are all good, but I want to add to the experience,” he said. “I found freedom with my trike, first time out. [My] young kids [had to] push my wheelchair. Nobody is pushing my trike. Freedom.”

For Bill, pedaling his way around Madonna’s Lincoln campus is all about opportunity.

“We’re all called to service in different ways, and what a great service Dan is giving us by coming and explaining,” Bill said. “Madonna does everything they can to give us opportunities for [a] better quality of life and this is just one of them.”

For more coverage of the Spokes Fighting Strokes event, click here.

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