Mom, son walk across Kan. to benefit stroke survivors

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A metro mother and son began quite a trek Thursday.  Their Walk Across Kansas started at the Colorado border. The goal is to raise money so people who’ve had strokes can move toward brighter futures.

Sandra Billinger is a physical therapist and researcher at KU Medical Center. She suspects that movement soon after a stroke doesn’t just keep muscles from deteriorating. It also may make a real difference in the brain. Sandra says walking may improve blood flow there and that might help revive some of the damaged brain tissue.

“And that’s really an exciting part — that if we can help reduce that lesion size by getting them up and moving early, could we improve then their functional outcomes, which would be like walking or dressing or grooming,” says Sandra.

The researcher needs some equipment to do the study of stroke patients.  She needs money to buy that equipment. That, in part, led Sandra and her son, Michael, to decide to raise money by walking across Kansas from Colorado to the KU Med Campus on the Missouri border. They intend to cover the 570 miles in 23 days.

“I’m very nervous actually. It’s a big undertaking,” says Sandra.

It’s an undertaking that Sandra couldn’t have imagined 20 years ago when she was pregnant with Michael and suffered severe injuries when a car hit her.  Her recovery led her to become a physical therapist.

“Personally, it’ll be great to think about where I was 20 years ago and all the things I’ve been able to do and how we’ve been able to help people. And if this walk helps stroke survivors, it’ll be really truly wonderful,” she says.

If you’d like to help, click here.

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