As so many of you and WNEP's Ryan's Run team continue to raise funds to change lives at Allied Services, so many inspirational stories keep popping up.
Ryan's Run helps raise money to purchase cutting edge rehabilitation technology. It's used to improve the lives of kids and adults with disabilities at Allied, a nonprofit based in northeastern and central Pennsylvania.
On Tuesday, Newswatch 16's Ryan Leckey, who spearheads Ryan's Run, was live with one of our campaign's corporate sponsors, Northeastern Rehabilitation Associates.
Ryan shared the story of Sara Michaels, a wife and mother of two from Forty Fort living with multiple sclerosis or MS.
Sara shared how Dr. John Kline, a physiatrist at Northeastern Rehabilitation Associates P.C. along with therapists at Allied, changed her life.
"This was all overwhelming when it first began," said Sara.
MS is an unpredictable disease that affects people’s central nervous system in a variety of ways.
Sara’s MS diagnosis came out of nowhere nine years ago when she was 38.
"I’d run on the treadmill and trip. My foot would slip, get heavy, numb," Sara explained.
Symptoms that led to nonstop appointments with several doctors.
"We have been everywhere. We’ve been to Johns Hopkins. Penn.," said Sara. "I just felt like I was trapped inside.”
Sara’s MS got so bad in 2017 that she needed a wheelchair and lived for nearly two months at Allied Services Heinz Rehab Hospital near Wilkes-Barre.
"You can never give up," Sara added.
And because she didn’t, Sara eventually came home. She continued her physical therapy appointments at Allied but her MS remained relentless.
"It was preventing my foot from being in a natural position," she explained.
But Sara pushed on.
At one point during her physical therapy sessions, she used technology purchased by Ryan's Run -- the Bioness System. It helped stimulate her right floppy foot allowing Sara to slowly progress and work her way through various leg braces.
But she needed one more boost. Dr. John Kline was that person. Sara’s game-changing doctor wasn’t in some big city, rather right in our area at Northeastern Rehabilitation Associates.
"I’ve always said we have good healthcare here in northeastern Pennsylvania and she really found good healthcare," said Mary Jane Hargadon of Wyoming, Sara’s mom.
For Sara, Dr. Kline wasn’t just any doctor. He’s a physiatrist which he admits people often confuse with a podiatrist AKA foot doctor.
Here’s what a physiatrist actually does:
"Our job is to deal with the person as a whole. We have to deal with the musculoskeletal issues -- muscles and bones -- as well as a neurologic injury, promote a functional status, and decrease their overall pain symptoms," explained Dr. Kline, Physiatrist at Northeastern Rehabilitation Associates.
Dr. Kline ended up treating Sara’s drop foot with something that even surprised her.
Sara said, "I really wasn’t familiar with botox.”
Botox was used as a way to prevent Sara’s foot muscles from seizing up from the MS. This allowed her to gain strength and mobility in physical therapy to get closer to her goals. Since Dr. Kline also works as medical director of Allied Services Heinz Rehab Hospital, in addition to his job at Northeastern Rehabilitation Associates, he didn’t miss a beat.
Physical Therapist Kristina Dorkoski from Allied Services Heinz Rehab Hospital said, "That communication with Dr. Kline was really important because we really needed him on board to medically manage the situation in addition to the therapy.”
"It is unbelievable what these two organizations have done for my wife," said Matt Michaels, Sara's husband.
A journey and a team effort now has this 47-year-old thinking of joining our team one day in the TCS New York City Marathon, running it in honor of her father Bernie.
"I grew up going to that marathon and cheering him on and it’s amazing," said Sara. "I know that I carry him with me.”