Solomon Plains Memorial Junior High School Principal John Woloski’s story is an inspiring account of stroke survival. Having received extensive therapy at Allied Services, his story is being feature as a three-part story on WBRE-TV.
Wilkes-Barre Township, Luzerne County — 55-year-old stroke survivor John Woloski gets positive feedback in more ways than one at John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine in Wilkes-Barre Township. He gets biofeedback using a device called REO as part of his occupational therapy. Using grasp and release functions to control a virtual hand, John works on improving his stroke-weakened left arm.
Occupational therapist Lori Ackerman told him, “Okay, this is all you. You have to do all the work. The machine is just going to keep you in line. So, it’s going to be a little tougher.” Tough tests are nothing new for John since a stroke in February impaired his mobility and speech and forced him to take a leave of absence as principal at Solomon Plains Memorial Junior High School in Plains Township. He thought back to a childhood idol, legendary boxer Joe Frazier, to channel his own inner fighter in this comeback bid. “Joe used to get beat up sometimes in the ring pretty bad as you probably know. But he never stopped. He always went on and on. And I said to myself you have to be like Joe. Just go. No matter what they put you through don’t stop because he wouldn’t stop.”
Three days a week, three hours each day, John undergoes therapy at Heinz Rehab to try and regain the life he once knew. “He suffered greatly in terms of his mobility so he was a candidate for a lot of the technology that we can offer stroke patients because it was not only his upper but it was his lower extremity as well,” said Dr. Greg Basting, M.D. who is the medical director at John Heinz Rehabilitation Medicine. John and other stroke patients, unlike those decades earlier, now have access to the REO and other specialized state of the art equipment like the Zero G. “The Zero G, which John used in part of his recovery, helps a therapist improve a patient’s balance, walking ability, ability to stand all with technologies that were not available ten years ago,” said Dr. Basting.
John uses the Bioness L 300 during physical therapy to correct his foot drop and improve mobility by stimulating muscles and nerves in his lower leg. Physical therapist Angela Reese who works with John said, “It’s an assist. It allows him to use the muscle activity that he has and allows him to place it in a more appropriate position. Cheryl Woloski, John’s wife, said “It’s just amazing. It’s the machinery, the equipment that they have in addition to those therapists.”
Several of those therapists armed with walkers joined John for a routine that the former music teacher turned principal choreographed himself set to the Meghan Trainor song “All About That Bass”. His sense of humor and determination combined with skilled help and state of the art rehab equipment at Heinz Rehab give John and his wife great hope. When asked what were here hopes or expectations for John’s recovery, Cheryl replied “We’re going to dance again. We’re big dancers and we’re going to dance again some day.”
See below for the full video of John’s choreography of “All About That Bass.”