PROGRAM MANAGER, Opening ARTS and Minds
For Wes, a dedication and enthusiasm for the arts extends as far back as he can recall. His sincere devotion to drawing and painting is paralleled only by his interest in science, biology and community engagement. However, in 2003, after one year of undergraduate work at The University of Texas at Austin, he broke my C5-C6 vertebrae in a diving accident, suffered a spinal cord injury and thus became paralyzed from the chest down. After a year of recovery and rehabilitation at TIRR Memorial Hermann, it became apparent he would not regain use of my legs, abdomen or hands. Even though the life as Wes knew had changed forever, it did not sway him from pursuing his goals for the future. If nothing else, Wes decided he was going to spend the rest of his life intensely engaged with his first passion, Art. Therefore, he returned to The University of Texas, and later completed both his BA and BFA in studio art.
Wes has had his artwork displayed in Houston, Austin, Dallas and Washington DC.
After graduation, he continued life as a practicing artist and teacher, and became the Visual Arts Director at Katy Visual and Performing Arts Center. While at KVPAC, Wes truly came to grasp the value of art for all ages and abilities. He later joined the Houston organization, ARTreach. This nonprofit supports the connection and delivery of quality arts programs led by professional artists with support from assistants and volunteers. ARTreach serves local populations that are typically overlooked: including children and families at risk, special needs groups and senior citizens.
Wes joined the United Spinal Association of Houston as a member first. It didn’t take long for Wes to realize the need for people living with a spinal cord injury to have more community engagement and a robust public presence. Alongside the rest of the United Spinal Association of Houston team, Wes’s goal is strong and driven action, locally and nationally, to ensure access and equality for the entire disability community.
LAURA WIGGS, PT, NCS
DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY OUTREACH
Laura Wiggs, PT, NCS received a Bachelor of Science Physical Therapy from the School of Allied Health Sciences at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas in August 1991. Before beginning her career at Mentis Neuro Rehabilitation, she worked as a physical therapist at the Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR) Challenge Program from June 2002 until May 2007. She also served as clinical assistant manager and physical therapy supervisor for the Brain Injury Team during her time at TIRR beginning in August 1994.
Ms. Wiggs is a licensed physical therapist in the state of Texas since 1991 and a board certified clinical specialist in neurological physical therapy by the American Physical Therapy Association. She is also a certified brain injury specialist, and is NDT certified. She has published several articles on the subject of neurological rehabilitation and stroke in such publications as Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation. Her professional activities include committee membership in the Texas Physical Therapy Association as well as membership in the American Physical Therapy Association and APTA Neurology Section.
In addition to her clinical activities, she has served as Adjunct Faculty at the University of Texas Medical Branch at the School of Allied Health Professionals since 2002. She has lectured internationally on topics such as Predicting Functional Outcomes, presented on the topics of Comprehensive Management of Adults with Traumatic Brain Injury, Managing the Agitated Patient and Spasticity Management for the MS and Stroke Population. She used her experience as a clinician and educator to develop and implement 6 brain injury programs at Mentis Neuro Rehabilitation.
Leah cole, OTR, mot
DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
Leah completed her bachelor's degree in social science - sociology from the University of Texas A&M of College Station and a master's degree in occupational therapy from the University of Texas Medical Branch of Galveston. In May 2008 Leah joined the TIRR Memorial Hermann team, where she remained until 2011, at which time she accepted a position as the director of rehabilitation at a post acute rehabilitation center in Katy, Texas. Later, Leah returned to TIRR Memorial Hermann where she has specialized in traumatic brain injuries, CVAs, and is currently a level III clinician. Leah has received significant post-graduate training in neuromuscular reeducation, spasticity management, seating/positioning for neurologically involved patients, and has received multiple student education awards. Additionally, Leah is currently a new employee mentor, involved in wheelchair seating program development, is a presenter for a clinician seating and mobility course, and continues to be involved in BI program development. She stays busy in her time away from work as wife and a proud mother of two young kiddos. Leah is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and a licensed Occupational Therapist.