Friday, August 22, 2014

Features
Milwaukee Center For Independence
by Jessica Tighe


Milwaukee- The Milwaukee Center For Independence is celebrating a big milestone. The center is now in its 75th year of helping people with special needs or disabilities achieve their highest level of independence. Joe Nesbit is one of those people. About a year and a half ago, his life took an unexpected turn.

"He stopped breathing due to what they think was a blood clot," his wife Kristin Nesbit recalls.

That was the moment that changed Joe's life. He now lives with a traumatic brain injury. He's wheelchair-bound and has short term memory loss. Doctors said his chances of any type of recovery were slim, but Joe's beating the odds thanks to the people and therapy programs at the Milwaukee Center For Independence.

"Our clients don't come in here and get put into something that exists. We change what we have and tailor it to what they want to do, what they want to achieve and how they want to accomplish that," Kimberly Noon, VP of Quality, Compliance and Marketing for MCFI explains.

It's a philosophy that makes the Nesbit's feel at home. "I never wanted to have a set goal for Joe. What he wants is what he's going to get and I'm going to stand behind him and cheerlead for him," Joe's wife says.

Joe ultimately wants to drive a car again and go back to work. He's in a number of therapy programs to help get him there. They're unique programs like music therapy. Joe loves music!

"We don't always know the science of why it works. We care about what's the effect on our client and what's the impact. If it's working for them, we'll keep doing that," Noon says while explaining the unique therapy programs at MCFI.

Joe also participates in pet therapy which Noon says works for a variety of reasons.

"Pet therapy is shown to reduce blood pressure, reduce respiration so people are more relaxed. Generally when people are more relaxed and comfortable they go into the next training or therapy session and they're able to assimilate more.

Kristin says the center keeps Joe very busy and she thinks that's great. "That stimulates his brain which is only encouraging for healing," Kristin says with a smile on her face.

Joe is healing. He started therapy at MCFI a little more than a year ago and he's seeing improvement in his short-term memory. He's also relearning basic skills and feeling more like himself again.

"They make him feel like a normal person. They don't treat him like he has a handicap and some people do," Kristin says.

Noon agrees and says, "This center is all about being what you want to be, being who you want to be and being independent. It's living the life you want to live. That's an amazing thing."

MCFI is changing lives and making Milwaukee great.