Blaine residents an inspiration to Sister Kenny

Two Blaine residents were recently recognized for their inspirational attitudes despite challenging circumstances caused by disabilities.

Hanna Maslowski won the top honor from the Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute—2012 Patient of the Year. Ross Kneen was one of nine others who received an Inspiration Award.

Sister Kenny is part of the Allina Health system and specializes in treating people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, stroke, cancer, work or sport-related injuries and neurological or muscular disorders.

Maslowski has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and has been receiving therapy for several years at Kenny Kids in Coon Rapids.

Her therapist Sarah Leathers met Hanna for the first time when she came to Kenny Kids at the age of 10 following surgery to have her intrathecal baclofen pump replaced for the third time. She had it replaced a fourth time at the age of 13. Leathers said in the time she has known her, Maslowski has also had surgery on her ankles, heel cord and hamstring releases, has received Botox and phenol injections to help decrease her tone and has had seizures that resulted in a decreased function for weeks to months at a time.

Maslowski entered the Miss You Can Do It Pageant at the age of 12 and competed at nationals in Texas. When this pageant dissolved, Maslowski’s family started the Pageant of Hope so girls with special needs could continue to have an activity that builds their confidence. The Pageant of Hope is in its fourth year and includes workshops on personal growth and goal setting.

“She helps the girls get ready, gives them pointers, and she has a speaking role during the event,” her mother Lisa Maslowski said. “The other girls look up to Hanna.”

Maslowski has also participated in bocce ball in the Special Olympics, and bowling, cheerleading and adaptive dance at her high school.

A stroke in April 2011 slowed down Kneen. He had little use of his right arm and leg, and he needed assistance to get out of bed, take small steps, bathe, dress and groom.

Kneen arrived at therapy in a wheelchair, but he has progressed quickly to walking with a cane, according to his therapists Kelly Costello and Ashley Brausen. He was soon able to dress and groom himself.

His progress was hampered when he was rehospitalized several times due to cardiac and kidney problems, but he never gave up.

Shoulder pain that required electrical stimulation, skin breakdown due to diabetes, and a multi-level home that required him to go up and down flights of stairs are some of the challenges he has faced and conquered.

His therapists said he progressed from walking 25 feet as he began therapy to 1,000 feet by the time he was discharged from outpatient therapy in December 2011.

“He accepted his situation and embraced his recovery process as a stroke survivor, rather than a stroke victim,” according to a press release from Allina Health.

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