A $750,000 gift to the Wilson Research Foundation at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson will launch new robotics research and education initiatives at the Jackson hospital. 

The gift from Linda and Wirt Yerger III of Ridgeland will establish the Yerger NeuroRobotics Research Fund. The aim is to improve the application of robotic therapy for those who have suffered stroke, brain or spinal cord injuries.

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You’ve just stumbled upon a man lying unconscious in the woods. He appears to have fallen from a tree stand. What do you do?

That question confronted participants of a recent Wilderness Medicine Seminar at Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s Flowood campus. And the answer was probably a surprise to some.

Rather than rushing to act, it’s best to size up the scene for threats to your own safety, advised seminar leader Dr. Philip Blount.

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George Atchley of Ridgeland, Miss., is not the kind of guy who rushes into surgery.

He’s lived with a bum knee since he woke up 10 years ago with a burning sensation in the joint.

“The next morning it was completely numb, and it has been completely numb ever since,” said the retired planetarium director for Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.

Atchley might still be ignoring the problem, if not for some pain-related sleep deprivation.

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As a 20-year veteran of law enforcement, Devie Freeman is used to closing cases.

But still open is the case of what exactly happened to him on the night of Aug. 22, 2016 at his Canton, Miss., residence.

“In the wee hours of the morning, around 3 a.m., apparently I was attempting to go downstairs—I’m assuming to get a bottle of water—and I fell down the stairs,” Freeman said. “Later, I was informed that my door was open and my alarm went off, so the police came to the apartment for the alarm call and they found me laying on the sofa and bleeding.”

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In the summer of 2016, Dr. Edra Kimmel was living the hectic life of a popular obstetrician/gynecologist.

She had patients to see, babies to deliver and surgeries to perform. So when she began feeling achy and feverish, she refused to let a few flu symptoms slow her down.

“I was too busy to deal with anything,” she said. But a couple of weeks later, she had to cry uncle.

“I woke up with complete right facial paralysis, both legs were completely numb and my abdomen felt like a girdle of numbness,” she said.

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The members of Jackson State University’s dance ensemble give each other nicknames to reflect who they are and what they’ve been through.

They call Martez Baldwin “Indestructibly Paid.”

“They say I’m indestructible because I’m not letting anything stop me,” Baldwin said. “And the paid part, they said that’s because I’ve paid my dues.”

Baldwin, 27, has lived most of his adult life under the shadow of lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease that attacks healthy cells in the body.

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Tennis great Arthur Ashe said: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

That quote is displayed outside Ginny Boydston’s office at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson, Miss. And it’s a philosophy she’s followed since arriving at the Jackson hospital almost 40 years ago.

She started with a blank slate. Used every resource she could find. And accomplished what few might have imagined in Mississippi—the creation of a nationally recognized adaptive sports program at MRC.

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As Sheila Burnham boarded a boat to go scuba diving in Belize, the Madison, Miss., resident could feel her fellow passengers doing double takes.

At the time, tourist destinations were hardly the domain of paraplegic wheelchair users.

“I was a novelty,” she said.

Today, she’s less of a spectacle as she hits the slopes in Colorado or hunts game in the wilds of Africa. Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, more people than ever see the sights from the seat of a wheelchair.

But traveling with a disability is still no roll in the park.

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Hubert Cliburn of Pearl, Miss., didn’t waste any words when asked what the physicians at Methodist Pain & Spine Center did for him.

“They fixed me right up,” he said.

At 81 years old, Cliburn is semi-retired, but still works part-time at Avis Rental Car. When pain started to interfere with his job, he sought relief by visiting Dr. Philip Blount, a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician at the center.

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Dr. Vernon Lin is 6 feet 3 inches tall and has a resume 21 pages long.

But it’s his Type A intensity that got the attention of Dr. Louis Harkey, chairman of the neurosurgery department at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in Jackson.

Harkey recently hired Lin as chief of the new Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) at UMMC.

“And we found out we have a tiger by the tail,” Harkey said. “He is incredibly aggressive. He visited several times and made plans well before he set foot on campus as an employee.”

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