Every year in this country, far too many people suffer some form of traumatic (and often debilitating) injury or medical event. Consider these startling annual statistics . . .
795,000 people suffer a stroke, with 600,000 of them first attacks and the other 185,000 recurrent attacks.
There are about 17,700 new cases of spinal cord injury.
At least 1.7 million cases of traumatic brain injury occur.
Approximately 185,000 amputations occur.
These statistics could be more
than a little
depressing, especially for the people involved, but there is a bright
spot in all this. And that is The Burke Rehabilitation Hospital.
The Burke Rehabilitation
Hospital – A Place of Hope and Recovery
Burke Rehabilitation Hospital
in 1915 and has "been a leader in medical rehabilitation for
more than one hundred years." This remarkable hospital, located
in White Plains, New York, is accredited by both the Joint Commission
and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities –
"the gold standards for acute care rehabilitation hospitals in
the United States today." In addition, the hospital has been
"academically affiliated with the prestigious Albert Einstein
College of Medicine" for the past few years.
That sounds pretty impressive,
but what really goes on at The Burke Rehabilitation Hospital?
Attracting and welcoming
patients from across the country and around the world, "Burke
provides inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation for a broad range of
neurological, musculoskeletal, cardiac, and pulmonary disabilities
caused by disease or injury." Most often, patients at Burke have
been transferred from acute-care hospitals after stabilization of
their conditions. Patients have typically experienced one (or more)
of the following:
Spinal cord injury
Patients at Burke then
participate in intensive, custom-tailored programs involving
physical, occupational, and speech therapy. This "personalized
care is the result of expert, interdisciplinary teams, led by a
remarkable range of medical specialists" – including
"neurologists, physiatrists, internists, rheumatologists,
pulmonologists, and neurophysiologists. The intensive therapy regimens involve a minimum of 15 hours of physical, occupational, and speech
therapy every week. And because Burke conducts clinical research,
patients also have the opportunity to participate in "cutting
edge medical research for ongoing studies."
But Burke does a lot more than
just treat the body . . .
chaplain visits, patient greenhouse activities and family support
groups are also available. These resources explain Burke's national
reputation for excellence and its consistent success helping patients
achieve their maximum recovery."
Human beings are composite
creatures made up of much more than atoms and molecules configured
into a particular shape. The staff at Burke know that recovery is
about a lot more than making patients' bodies work better. Their
success lies in large part in addressing the emotional,
psychological, and spiritual aspects of patients' recovery.
And a big part of that is just
making sure patients have ample opportunity to have active
Treating the Whole Person
Through Athletic Fun
A great example of how Burke
treats the whole person is the annual big blow-out of athletic
events, particularly the Wheelchair Games. It's an event that
includes participants ranging in age from five to 70, competing in
everything from javelin throwing to wheelchair slalom races to ping
pong. And besides building their confidence by the simple act of
competing in these events, participates all get a plaque and a goody
Burke's campus covers 60 acres. Volunteers set up a huge tent in the parking lot where lunch is served for the event. Also, there is
an 1/8-mile track where the
track events take place from about 1:30 to 4:00 or 5:00 pm – after,
of course, the lunch served under the big top. And in Burke's
Quadrangle are six pits for events like javelin, discus, and
softball throws. There's also ping pong in the gym and a wheelchair
athletic slalom in the parking lot.
But the athletes here aren't
competing against one another – the sole purpose is to build
confidence to help them in their rehabilitation and recovery. For
example, everyone gets a trophy, and all participants in the
basketball free-throw competition receive a medal. And why not? They
are all, after all, winners just by
virtue of getting out there and competing.
One of the big hits at this
big event is the goody bags every participant receives. And
all this is a 100% volunteer effort with 90% of everything donated.
So, of course, donations
are always welcome.
Dona Rumney – A Driving
Force at Burke
Dona Rumney – who graciously
granted us an interview – is definitely a driving force behind the
games and goody bags at The Burke
Rehabilitation Hospital. (She was, however, quick to point out that, really, it is a collaborative effort involving and among the committee, volunteers, athletes, and Burke administration.)
Dona is married, the mother of a
32-year-old daughter, and loves music. She has been in purchasing
for 40 years and has served in this capacity at Burke for the past 27
years. And this experience has equipped her well for her pivotal role
in Burke's athletic games.
Dona started out on the Wheelchair Games committee 25 years ago and soon became convinced that she could do a better job of
getting donations, especially swag
for the goody bags. Because Burke is a not-for-profit entity, it took
her a while to get the go-ahead for fundraising – but she finally
Now Dona solicits – and
receives – donations from individuals and businesses throughout the
tri-state area and beyond. Her efforts, for example, have brought in
donations of bobblehead dolls from the New York Mets and cough drops
from Ricola. Other donations include water bottles, bandanas, wrist
bands, and toothbrushes. Her success at getting donations has been
Dona also raises funds with
chance raffles and a silent auction, depending on the dollar amount
involved. The raffles include hundreds of dollars worth of toys, and
the prizes for the silent auction have included restaurant gift
cards, ski lift tickets, winery tours, helicopter rides, comedy club
tickets, and a time-share vacation week at Breckenridge, CO.
Exemplifying the spirit of
Burke, Dona does a lot more than just solicit donations and raise
funds. She has, for example, been a coach at the games for the past
10 years. And her daughter does face painting. Pretty impressive,
The Goody-Bag Bandanas
As Dona said several times,
because people and businesses who donate tend to fall away after a
while, making it harder every year, "Google is my friend."
And that's exactly where she went when she needed to find bandanas
for the goody bags.
Dona went online, found
Everyone, liked what she saw, and now Wholesale For Everyone has
been donating bandanas
for several years. And the kids love them. In fact, Dona says, they
often take the bandana out first thing to wear on their heads.
According to Dona, Wholesale
For Everyone is " a really great supporter of Burke's Wheelchair
Games." She says the quality of the bandanas is great. She also
likes how the bandanas come already folded in half so that she only
has to fold them one more time before putting them into the goody
Get Involved in a Worthy
This year's Wheelchair
Games (and other athletic events) will be held on Saturday,
September 21. Several radio stations from around the area will be
there to cover the day's events and to give these brave participants
the recognition they deserve. In addition, everyone who donates is
acknowledged in the program.