Encompass Health to present awards

Seven people will be honored Sept. 23 when Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Altoona presents its annual Rehab Awards.

Kenneth Cook of Hollidaysburg, Adam Gee of La Jose, Roderick Baronner of Altoona, Richard Shaffer of Hollidaysburg and Brennen and Cameron Yingling of Duncansville will receive personal achievement awards, presented to people who have made an outstanding effort to deal with or overcome a disability.

Tim Hoyer will receive the personal advocate award, which is presented to someone who has given selflessly to help a person with a disability or illness.

CEO Scott Filler will present certificates of recognition to the winners.

“The awards ceremony is one of our dearest traditions,” said CEO Scott Filler in a statement. “It gives us an opportunity to recognize patients who succeeded in spite of their circumstances, overcame enormous obstacles and proved their determination to succeed. We are proud of the team we have here, and to see and recognize these incredible stories of success is one of the most fulfilling parts of what we do.”

— Cook came to Encompass last October with the diagnosis of Guillan Barre. He had very little movement in his lower extremities and little strength in his upper extremities.

In four weeks, he was able to go from dependent to independent with all functional mobility.

“I believe Ken was able to do this so quickly because of his positive attitude and willingness to work hard every day. Ken never complained in therapy and was always excited to try the next thing,” wrote physical therapist Madison Pedersen.

— In December, Gee, 26, fell off a ladder at work and sustained a spinal cord injury. When he arrived at Encompass, he had little to no movement in his legs.

He was incredibly determined to get back on his feet and now is able to walk with a walker, according to physical therapist Brittany Talbott.

“What is most impressive is that Adam never stopped living his life during all his rehabilitation. He continues to work and do all the things he’s enjoyed prior. He chooses to live and modify the tasks to his needs rather than sit and wait for things to get better, such as learning to drive with hand controls,” Talbott wrote.

— Baronner came to Encompass after brain surgery where he had to have a shunt placed.

He was unable to hold his head up for any more than a few seconds at a time. He had a feeding tube that he would constantly try to pull on and that was his focus for a few days, wrote occupational therapist Kim Lovetro.

In 43 days in inpatient rehab, he progressed from a dependent level with all mobility and self-care to requiring only steadying assistance to walk with a walker and is able to complete his self-care on his own. He returned home to continue his progress in outpatient therapy, Lovetro wrote.

“I consider myself so blessed to have been a part of Rod’s recovery process. It reminds me why I chose to be a therapist in an inpatient rehab. I spent hours with Rod each day and was able to see his transformation from day one, where he couldn’t hold his head up or to follow directions, to being independent and returning to doing the things he enjoys in life,” Lovetro wrote. “Rod and Rose’s (his wife) determination, extreme hard work and love for each other got Rod to where he is now and is exactly why he deserves the rehab award.”

— Shaffer of Hollidaysburg has suffered from numerous disabilities in the last 28 years. A crushed hip, pulmonary embolism, moderate heart attack, stroke, right knee replacement, triple bypass, left knee replacement and more.

In April, he was diagnosed with the terminal disease of pulmonary fibrosis. He has been a type II diabetic since the mid 1990s, wrote his wife Judy.

“Disability. Ask my husband about disability. He has been there, done that. Thank God he maintains his positive attitude, strength and love for one and all. He has been through a lot and I seriously wonder just how much more my husband can take. Only God knows,” Judy Shaffer wrote.

— Brennen Yingling, 12, and Cameron Yingling, 9, sons of Brad and Jen Yingling of Duncansville, were diagnosed with Friedrich’s Ataxia, a rare, genetic and progressive neuromuscular disease. It affects balance, coordination, mobility and in most cases the heart.

Recently, both boys were diagnosed with mild cardiomyopathy. Currently there is no treatment or cure.

“Their positive attitude and fighting spirit has been an inspiration to those close to them. They continue aqua and land therapy twice a week to maintain muscle strength and mobility,” wrote the Meadowbrook outpatient staff which nominated the boys for the award.

The boys were able to play baseball this year because of therapy provided at Encompass Health and are ambassadors for the Altoona Curve baseball team.

“The boys deserve to win the rehab award because they inspire many to put things in perspective. They live their life fully and embrace all their challenges they face with a positive can do attitude with the loving support of Mom and Dad and sister Kimberly, friends and family,” the staff wrote.

— Hoyer will be recognized for his activity with brain injury support groups since his own injury in 2012. In January 2016, he took over leadership of the Blair County Brain Injury Support Group.

“Tim takes personal interest in each group member, encouraging them to reach the goals they have set, whether it be regaining their driver’s license, getting a job or returning to school. Tim has sought community resources to assist group members as well as using his own resources to provide aid where needed,” wrote Marty Dombrowski, assistant director, Center for Independent Living of South Central Pennsylvania, and Ann Scheeler, an independent living specialist, who nominated Hoyer for the award.