West Texas Rehab helps man walk again

Published: Jan. 13, 2020 at 9:57 PM CST
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SAN ANGELO, TEXAS (TNN) - The 50th Annual West Texas Rehabilitation Center’s telethon is Saturday, January 18 and we’re giving you an inside look at how the non-profit is enriching people’s lives.

For 67 years, the West Texas Rehabilitation Center has been providing therapy to patients across several states, and more than 150 cities across Texas. Located in San Angelo, Abilene, and Ozona, the facility offers care to people with disabilities, regardless of their financial circumstance.

It’s made possible through fundraisers, like the upcoming telethon that allows West Texas Rehab to help anyone who walks through their doors.

“The first thing our staff should be asking when they come in the doors is, ‘Do you need help paying your bill?’," said West Texas Rehab CEO, Steve Martin. "If they need help, we want to alleviate that burden upfront.”

And with the telethon days away, we’re learning about a man getting stronger day by day with the help of physical therapy at West Texas Rehab. At 46-years-old, Luis Pena is learning how to walk again.

“I had a stroke and then a few heart attacks," said Pena. "And just shock out of the blue, kind of a surprise.”

He remained hospitalized for months, causing his muscles to breakdown. Pena knew he would have to regain his strength, but one part of his recovery included surgery that made it an even more difficult feat.

“I had brain surgery, they removed part of my cerebellum," said Pena. "I don’t have my balance so I can’t walk.”

What’s been a difficult journey for Pena is made easier by physical therapists, like Laura Wilson. She’s one of several Pena sees twice a week for about an hour a day for the last two years.

“When he first came, he was in a wheelchair all the time,' said Wilson. "I don’t think he could imagine when he could walk into this clinic, and that’s what he does every day now. He walks in.”

And its with state of the art equipment like the Zero-G Body Weight Support System that helps Pena improve every day.

“When I first started, I use to stomp around like Frankenstein, so I think my steps have gotten better," said Pena.

West Texas Rehab doesn’t stop until their patients reach their full potential, whether it’s through physical therapy, occupational therapy or speech therapy. In Pena’s case though, it’s all that and then some.

“With Luis, he’s been able to work with our neuro team," said Wilson. "He’s gotten orthotics, treatment from an OT & PT, Speech Therapist, a dietitian. We’re trying to come at it from all angles to help him heal in the best way and most full way.”

Now, Pena is well on his way to achieving his goal of walking independently and shares the message of perseverance with others.

“I’d tell them to keep working hard and don’t give up because, from where I came from, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now," he said.

The telethon is a five hour show that kicks off at 7 p.m. on Saturday, January 18. The phone lines are open until midnight. For more information, visit

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