RUSK AND THE CIT Y: A ROUNDUP OF OUR
2011 COMMUNITY EVENTS
Rusk is world-famous for
providing rehabilitation services
to individuals recovering from
disabling injuries or medical
conditions, but it also plays an
important role in the community,
holding free public seminars and
other activities to raise awareness
about rehabilitation medicine,
wellness, and preventive health.
Over the past year, these
outreach efforts stretched
from Manhattan’s waters to a
church in Brooklyn, and addressed issues ranging from sports concussions to
rehabilitation for limb loss.
Over the past year, these outreach efforts stretched from
Manhattan’s waters to a church in Brooklyn, and addressed issues
ranging from sports concussions to rehabilitation for limb loss.
Following is a roundup of the major community events organized and
hosted by Rusk’s faculty and staff in 2011:
In March, as part of National Brain Injury Awareness Month, two
lectures on “Concussion: The Invisible Injury”—one for parents, another for
coaches—were held at the Chelsea Piers Sports & Entertainment Complex.
The lectures, hosted by Rusk pediatric physiatrist Renat Sukhov, MD, and
Marie Briody, PhD, a senior pediatric psychologist, focused on the fact that a
concussion is actually a brain injury, and that athletes should be removed from
play immediately if there’s any possibility a concussion may have occurred.
On May 20, 2011, a morning-long seminar on “Living Successfully with
Stroke” drew a capacity crowd to the Rusk Pavilion as part of National Stroke
Awareness Month. The seminar for stroke survivors and their caregivers and
loved ones began with a presentation on stroke recovery and wellness that
included a Q&A session with Rusk stroke rehabilitation specialists. This was followed by a powerful panel discussion in which stroke survivors discussed what it
means to live successfully after experiencing a stroke. Later that day, attendees
were invited to tour Rusk’s Motor Recovery Research Laboratory, directed by
Preeti Raghavan, MD, where they learned about research on innovative ap-proaches to helping patients recover motor function following a stroke.
In mid-September, Rusk staged its most extensive celebration to date of
National Rehabilitation Awareness Week (September 18-24, 2011), hosting
BREAKING THROUGH BARRIERS: LIVING
SUCCESSFULLY AFTER A BRAIN INJURY
By Maria Cristina Tafurt, ABD, MA, OTR/L, Site Director, Rusk Rehabilitation at 17th Street
It was 7:59 a.m. on a Wednesday in May and Barbara Kulesva was just
coming out of the Lincoln Tunnel on her morning commute from Queens to
New Jersey. Barbara worked as an administrator for a credit union and was
taking courses at NYU with plans for a master’s degree in Global Affairs. As
she moved through traffic, a commuter bus crashed into Barbara’s car and
sent it spinning. The police reported that it was a miracle she survived and that
every part of the car was crushed except for the driver’s seat.
As a result of the crash, Barbara suffered a traumatic brain injury and
broken bones. “I don’t remember any of it,” Barbara later said. When she
arrived at Rusk’s Brain Injury Unit at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Hospital
for Joint Diseases, she was unable to walk and did not know what year it was
or even why she was there. “My memory was awful,” said Barbara. “I couldn’t
remember lots of things, like who had visited me, or when. Plus, my pelvis was
fractured and it was hard to sit or walk.” The rehab team quickly worked to
identify how much the brain injury had affected her ability walk, talk, remember,
a broad range of events for the community and for healthcare professionals.
The kick-off took place early Sunday morning, when Mary Kocy, of Rusk Reno-
vations (unrelated to Rusk Rehabilitation), water-skied 30 miles around Man-
hattan to raise money for vocational rehabilitation research for war veterans.
Kocy’s trip took an hour and forty minutes and raised $20,000.
and complete her daily activities of living (ADLs), as well as the best way to
address her orthopaedic injuries.
During the course of her four-week stay, Barbara demonstrated remarkable
resiliency and proved herself to be a hard worker. “To keep things light, I began
to call myself ‘the patient of the month,’ and the staff went right along with it.
They would call me their ‘patient of the month.’ That made things go easier for
By the time her discharge date came about, Barbara was walking
independently and completing most of her daily activities on her own. Her
memory had improved tremendously and she was feeling much more like
herself. “It was all of the therapists and nurses — everyone was so nice and
optimistic,” says Barbara. “I can’t express the goodwill coming from them. I
know that this is their job, but the amount of caring that they demonstrated to
me and my family was just amazing.”
“It was all of the therapists and nurses. . . the amount of caring
that they demonstrated to me and my family was just amazing.”
Barbara will be completing her outpatient rehabilitation at Rusk’s
comprehensive outpatient brain injury program, and plans to continue working
toward her master’s degree. “I can’t let anything hold me back,” she reports,
“and you all are helping me get there.”
Rusk Rehabilitation | “The Whole Story” | Spring 2012 | Page Five