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Doctors Making a Difference

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“Working in the medical field makes a person realize that life is a precious gift and that we have so much to be thankful for because in a quick second a person’s life can be turned upside down,” Jena Munson has observed during her 19 years as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist and Certified Brain Injury Specialist at Alegent Health Immanuel Rehabilitation Center.

Munson has dedicated her professional life to enhancing the quality of life of her patients who have suffered an injury or diagnosis that has changed the way they function. Munson taps into each individual’s passion and reintroduces them to the sporting fields and courts they love. She is truly able to sympathize because she was born without a right hand. But that didn’t stop her from pitching for her college softball team.


Munson has been instrumental in establishing numerous sports and physical fitness programs for people with disabilities. One example is the Back 2 Swing golf program at local golf courses. Single rider golf carts are available for people to use if they are paralyzed or have difficulties with balance. She also connects patients to adaptive water skiing, wheelchair softball, and hand cycling programs that take to area trails one time a week from May through October. She hopes to add adaptive snow skiing to her list of programming.

“There really isn’t anything Jena doesn’t do for her patients,” attests Jill Powers, Operations Leader for Alegent Health Rehabilitation Services. Establishing programs locally for patients is one thing, but Munson often approaches national organizations for their help with accommodating athletes with disabilities. Collaborations include the US Golf Association, the US Tennis Association, and the U-Can Ski Team.

The partnership with Paralympics means the local organization is affiliated with the United States Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs, CO, “which gives us many opportunities to be able to move athletes to an elite level if they are interested in moving in that direction,” Munson explains.

If an activity requires special, adaptive equipment, Munson approaches companies that specialize in adaptive equipment for help meeting her clients’ needs. “My goal is to be able to give persons with a disability a choice of what activities they can participate with on a weekly basis instead of only having an opportunity every once in a while,” she states.


For her creativity in getting her patients back to the sports they love and her tenaciousness in finding the support to do this, Munson was one of two people awarded the Spirit of Hope award in 2011. It recognizes people who have made outstanding contributions to Immanuel Medical Center.

But Munson doesn’t do it for accolades. She does it because she knows life is precious and can change in a blink of an eye. What would we do if we or someone we loved faced a life-altering accident or illness? It is a sobering thought. Luckily for the Omaha community, it has health care professionals like Jena Munson who work tirelessly to heal our whole person, body and spirit.

-end- metroMAGAZINE




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