KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ability KC has been a community fixture since its founding in 1947, providing important outpatient rehabilitation and therapeutic services to patients with disabilities.
One 47-year-old patient's road to recovery runs through Ability's halls.
"Don’t worry where you’re at a month from now, a year from now, just worry about the 24 hours ahead of you," Paul Baird said. He spent one of those 24 hours at Ability KC, putting pennies in a jar with his right hand and arm.
"I used to think this type of thing wouldn’t happen to me, I considered myself to almost be invincible," he said, speaking of a stroke he had in July.
He was bedridden in the hospital for a month and a half before he came to Ability KC.
"I wouldn’t be where I’m at today ... chances are I’d still be confined to a wheelchair," Baird said.
He arrived at Ability KC after it had to close in the early stages of the pandemic.
"To think about them being able to do everything virtual, it's just not really functionally possible. You need to have that hands-on experience with those individuals," Ability KC CEO and Executive Director Amy Castillo said.
The patients the organization serves have diagnoses that range from significant brain and spinal cord injuries to amputations and strokes. The effects of losing in-person care was felt immediately earlier this year.
"What starts to happen is regression or lack of progression in what we want to see them achieve in their functional therapies," Castillo said.
Her organization reopened in May. She said it's meaningful work for the more than 3,500 patients in the Kansas City metro.
"When these individuals are not isolated at home and they are back out and they are functionally achieving what their goals are, that's where we get total reward," Castillo said. "I mean, our staff is 100% committed to ensuring that these individuals ultimately reach their goals."
After the stroke that affected right-side motor functions, Baird is walking again.
"I was confined to a wheelchair and as you can see, I pretty much left the wheelchair in the garage," Baird said.
He's cherishing every step.
"I don’t like being told I can’t do something. I’m very goal-oriented," he said. "If I can learn to walk again, that’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to overcome."
To learn more about Ability KC, its mission to build brighter futures for people with disabilities, and the services it provides in the community, visit its website.
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