Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

Rehabilitation after stroke helps Kearney man return to the golf course

August 11, 2017

Recreation Therapist Jessie Eveland supports Ross Finley as he extends his arm while playing Wii Golf during a recreation therapy as part of his rehabilitation from a stroke.

From Wii Golf during a recreation therapy session at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals-Omaha Campus, to out on the golf course just a short time after heading home.

Ross Finley, of Kearney, Nebraska, is a long way from the hospital bed where he ended up after a cerebellar stroke on June 4.

“The first thing I did after I figured out I had a stroke is I called my boss, my commander, and told him I’m not going to  be able to come in for a couple of days,” Ross recalled.

He quickly discovered it would be more than a couple of days as he began rehabilitation to improve mobility in his arm, regain his ability to walk and recover his balance.

“I did occupational therapy and physical therapy and part of the physical therapy was the aquatic therapy here. So rebuilt the neuron paths in my brain to be able to use my hand like I want to,” he explained.

Ross enjoys woodworking and was determined to get back to his woodshop.

“I remember when I first got here being very concerned, after my arm started moving again, being very concerned with the first thing I did was this touch screen TV thing. They called it BITS,” said Ross. “… touching with my index finger, drawing a line from one number to the next. And my other fingers would open up and drag on that machine, or on that screen. And I remember thinking to myself, or actually saying to the therapist, that’s like cutting fingers off on a table saw. If my brain can’t figure out how to keep my hand closed when it’s supposed to have one finger out.  I was concerned. They took that little conversation and developed therapies that would teach my brain to keep that closed.”

All with a transdisciplinary care team that liked to surprise him - like the day he retired from the Nebraska Army National Guard.

“I spent 36 years in the Nebraska National Guard. It was a wonderful journey and I appreciate the opportunity to serve for those years.”

And again when they honored him with a Spirit Award, recognition for select individuals who show determination and courage in their rehabilitation journey.

“There’s so much more to rehabilitating than just doing strength or weight training, the muscle memory you learn, all the way down to recreation therapy,” said Ross.

Ross is getting ready to dance in the Kearney Dancing With the Stars in October, raising money for the Central Nebraska Veterans Memorial.

To learn more about Madonna's stroke program, click here.