Springfield students deliver rehab car to hospital

Patients will benefit for years to come, therapy coordinator says. 

By Emily Day - Contributing Writer

Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center students saw the fruits of their labor this month when they delivered a specialized rehabilitation vehicle to the Springfield Regional Medical Center.

The collaborative project between CTC and the hospital started in September when Chris Kusmierczyk, a physical therapist and therapy coordinator for the hospital, reached out to the CTC. However, Kusmierczyk said the idea for the project has been in the works for much longer — the desire of the hospital for many years.

“It’s a huge opportunity,” Kusmierczyk said. “We feel that this is something that the program has been lacking for a long time. It been something that we have been working on trying to obtain for a long time. Something that we are thrilled to partner with Springfield-Clark Technology Center to bring this to the community.”

Dave Rose, head of automobile technology at CTC, said when he heard of the hospital’s need, he thought it was a great opportunity for both the students and trauma patients. “Chris gave me a call and explained to me a little bit about what the hospital’s need was and what was going to take place,” Rose said. “Since I’ve had back surgery before, I understand the need to be able to get in and out of a car. And the students were able to get hands on experience and they were able to collaborate with other programs, so they got a really good feel for teamwork.”

Rose and his students spent two-and-a-half months adapting the car so it would be safe for the patients. Though Rose supervised and helped when needed, the project was largely student-led. The students removed the engine, the wheels, the windows and windshield, the fluids and all the wiring. They also removed the front and rear of the car and attached lockable caster wheels.
Kusmierczyk said that the rehabilitation vehicle will really jump-start patient therapy. “This is something that we can use for a long time,” Kusmierczyk said. “We will be practicing getting out of the vehicle with all our patients. When they come onto the rehab vehicle for the first time, we’re going to practice and then right before they are discharged. It just a way to help track their progress. It’s also a way to help to ensure they are ready for safe travel.”

Devon Seward, a student who worked on the car, said he felt great to be a part of a project that would help so many people.
“Knowing that I would be giving back to the community felt good,” Seward said. “Knowing that I was doing something that would help so many people felt good."