WHEELING - Previously swinging for Stone & Thomas patrons, the doors at the Stone Center building in downtown Wheeling's Market Plaza now open for patients of the free physical therapy clinic offered by Wheeling Jesuit University.
The clinic, which moved to its new location this past fall after operating on WJU's campus, runs two half-days a week. Students assist an average of seven visiting patients on Wednesdays and Fridays during the academic year as part of the university's service learning program.
Carrie Abraham, clinical associate professor of physical therapy at WJU, said the clinic is a way for the university to continue to meet its goal of providing service to others, specifically those who are unable to receive care due to lack of health insurance.
Wheeling Jesuit University physical therapy students Shelby Zelinksi, left, and Amanda Wahl assist patient LaDonna Evans, center, at the free physical therapy clinic in downtown Wheeling. -- Rebecca Olsavsky
"We're so thankful to have the space. It increases access to those who need (physical therapy) services the most," Abraham said.
First-year physical therapy student Jessica Yaney appreciates the "unique experience" of gaining real-world practice while giving back to the community.
That latter benefit has provided patients such as LaDonna Evans, who has utilized the clinic's services since October 2012, access to life-changing care.
Having suffered a stroke, LaDonna was previously immobile on her body's left side. She has regained 80-90 percent full use in her left arm and can walk with a cane.
"The amount of progress from being here is exponential," said Stacey Evans, LaDonna's daughter. "It's pretty spectacular."
According to Abraham, future goals include plans to increase community outreach and possibly make the clinic multidisciplinary with the university's other health programs.