Facility Expansion Helps More People Recover from Brain Injuries

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ANKENY, Iowa –A brain injury rehabilitation center in Ankeny helps people from all over the country recover and get on with their lives. An expansion at On With Life will help even more people suffering from traumatic brain injuries and strokes.

Every step is a challenge for Dianna Sprague. She started coming to On With Life in Ankeny in July. She said, “I had a stroke. So, my whole left side had to relearn to do everything, so relearn to walk and relearn how to reach and do things."

A new overhead harness is helping her relearn to walk. It's part of the brain injury rehabilitation center's expansion and renovation. She said, "It's a combination of hard work and opportunity to stand on your legs without losing your balance and keep helping them do their job, learn how to do their job."

The five million dollar project also includes a pool with a treadmill, outpatient therapy gym, and 18,000 square feet of added space.

On With Life Director of Therapy Services Dave Anders said, "It means that we can do more in terms of both the effectiveness and efficacy of our interventions between the pool where we can unweight people and allow them to complete movements more safely more easily, as well the use of the harness, the overhead harness, will be able to give physical therapists better opportunities to move folks through accurate motor movements."

The expansion also includes a practice apartment, which includes a bedroom, bathroom, laundry room and full kitchen. Anders said, "It will help persons served and families develop goals directly related to going home and give them opportunities to practice those skills."

Troy DeJoode knows what the new features will mean for the people On With Life serves. He said, “In May of 2010, my wife was in an automobile crash." The crash killed two of the DeJoode's three children and left his wife Heather in a coma.

Heather DeJoode spent four months at On With Life and walked out without any assistance. Troy is now a board member and will share his family's story at the facility's Celebrate Life fundraiser. He said, "It's such a great addition to On With Life and will make them so much better at what they're already great at doing."

The Celebrate Life event will honor donors and raise more funds for the expansion and renovation project. It’s at 6:30 Thursday, September 24. Governor Terry Branstad will be there to speak, along with DeJoode. You can contribute by going to the On With Life Website.

Sprague is pleased with the expansion. She said, "Oh, it's wonderful. The pool is my favorite."


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