CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. — The can-do attitude and optimistic persistence of a Mayo Clinic Health System physical therapist helped earn her the “2013 Physical Therapist of the Year” from the Wisconsin Physical Therapy Association.
Altoona resident Rob Johnston escorts his daughter, Susan, down the aisle during her July 2012 wedding in Phoenix Park in Eau Claire. Johnston, who suffered a stroke in 2010, credits his work with Mayo Clinic Health System physical therapist Jackie Ross that allowed him to share that special moment with his daughter.
“She never uses the word ‘quit,’” says Altoona resident Rob Johnston, who nominated his therapist, Jackie Ross, for the award. Johnston, who suffered a stroke in 2010, has been attending therapy sessions with Ross at Mayo Clinic Health System – Chippewa Valley’s clinic in Chippewa Falls.
Ross accepted the award last month at WPTA’s spring banquet in Wisconsin Dells.
“It was such an honor to be recognized before my peers, and it was very humbling,” she says.
Ross has practiced physical therapy for the last 32 years and says she is driven to help all her patients achieve whatever goals they’ve set for themselves. For Johnston, whose mobility was greatly compromised by the stroke, it was getting him to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding last summer.
“It was a beautiful wedding, and the crowd burst into applause when we reached her future husband,” Johnston recounts in his nomination letter.
But Ross has a knack of helping her patients reach for goals beyond their initial expectations.
“Additionally, I said to Rob, ‘Well, there has to be a father-daughter dance,’” Ross says. So she worked on Johnston’s strength and balance, as well as brought his daughter in for a couple therapy sessions, to make sure the duo was ready for their big day.
“It was a special surprise for everyone, and it was a moment I will never forget,” Johnston says. “And it wouldn’t have happened without Jackie.”
Moments like those are the true awards for any physical therapist, Ross says.
“I think every physical therapist could win this award,” she says. “I was fortunate to have an incredible patient who was able to put into words his experience. Having a good laugh or having a success or seeing them accomplish something they didn't think they were going to accomplish...I would have to say those are the rewards.”
To learn more about physical therapy options and locations with Mayo Clinic Health System, call 715-838-6190 or visit mayoclinichealthsystem.org.
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Mayo Clinic Health System consists of Mayo-owned clinics, hospitals and other health care facilities that serve the health care needs of people in more than 70 communities in Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The community-based providers, paired with the resources and expertise of Mayo Clinic, enable patients in the region to receive the highest-quality health care close to home.