May 10 2012

A helping hand

Health System volunteer reaches 16,000 hours of service

For most people, 16,000 hours would signify 8 years of full-time work. To George Lowrie, they represent the time he has spent at the Health System as a volunteer, and it hasn’t been work at all.

“I have a thing for babies. I always have,” says Lowrie, who splits his time between C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital floors 11 and 12. He holds, feeds and rocks babies, giving them the tender loving attention they need, away from home in a hospital.

“Sometimes, because of work, a parent can’t be here,” Lowrie says. “Or they’re so exhausted they have to go home.”

Before retirement, Lowrie worked in the lab of Comprehensive Cancer Center Director Max Wicha, M.D., as an organic chemist and volunteered four hours every Saturday. After retirement, he began treating his volunteer assignment like a job, coming in two days a week for 8 to 10 hours each day.

“He loves what he does and it really shows,” Tammy Kutter, administrative assistant in Volunteer Services, says. “Every once in a while he will come in and tell us about a great day he had regarding a child who he had gotten to know over many months who was able to go home. We often think about all the families’ lives he touches and how blessed they, and we, are to have come in contact with George.” Read the rest of this entry »

May 3 2012

“I understand where they’re coming from”

Prosthetist Mark Taylor’s own bout with polio brings a special touch of care to U-M’s post-polio clinic

Once a week, University of Michigan certified orthotist/prosthetist Mark K. Taylor, MLS, C.P.O, helps treat people for a disease that was declared dead in the U.S. years ago.

Many of his patients – now in their sixties or older – were the children of the 1950’s polio epidemic.

Today they suffer from joint pain, loss of balance, fatigue and weakened muscles that hinder daily activities like brushing teeth, climbing stairs, getting into a car or walking – a phenomenon known as post-polio syndrome. The U-M Orthotics and Prosthetics Center’s post-polio clinic is among few places in the region offering highly specialized therapy for these patients.

When he was just nine months old, Mark K. Taylor, MLS, C.P.O was diagnosed with polio, which paralyzed his left leg. Now a certified orthotist/prosthetist, Taylor credits orthotic interventions for helping him maintain mobility and he helps others do the same at the U-M Orthotics and Prosthetics Center’s post-polio clinic.

Taylor, 60, brings a special passion to this rare clinic. At nine months of age, before he was even old enough to walk, his left leg was paralyzed by polio.

“People don’t realize that we are still here,” Taylor says of polio patients. “Many people are still feeling the effects of polio or are experiencing symptoms for the first time decades later.

“Polio really affected my family and I’m finding that many of my patients’ stories are similar to mine. I understand where they’re coming from and how important it is to them to maintain independence and mobility.”

The summer of 1952 was heartbreaking for Taylor’s family who lived on a farm in Southern Idaho at the peak of the U.S. polio outbreak. Not only did Taylor’s mother learn her baby boy had polio – but her husband, Taylor’s father, lost his own battle with the disease.

Taylor, who uses a brace to walk, was told at age 25 that he’d be lucky if he was still mobile at 40. But as he says “I’ve cheated that by 20 years so far,” which he credits to orthotic interventions. Read the rest of this entry »