PHI Shining Stars

We have all had medical people in our lives who have done ordinary things that have made an extraordinary difference. Through their generosity or compassion they shone brightly for us during our darkest times. PHI's Shining Star campaign was created to give polio survivors a way to highlight and honor those health professionals who have made a positive difference in their lives. You can nominate your own Shining Star by following the instructions in the box to your right. In the meantime, read below about some of the dedicated health professionals who have already earned this recognition from PHI.

Daniel Ryan, MD
Krysten Salla, PT

Daniel Ryan, MD

Nominated by Bonnie Levitan: I am recognizing and honoring Dr. Daniel Ryan for his contributions to the polio survivors he has so generously served at the Center for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in Warren, Michigan. He gives so much of himself, and it is apparent to his patients that his strength of character, sense of purpose and commitment to the cause of polio comes through loud and clear. He is truly an outstanding physician.

Dr. Ryan grew up in Southeast Michigan and graduated from Kalamazoo College. He went on to medical school at Wayne State University, where he served as president of his graduating class. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Detroit Medical Center. He served as Chief Resident and published several papers. Dr. Ryan is a founding partner of Center for Physical Medicine, P.C., and has been Medical Director for St. John Home Health and Medical Director at St. John Detroit Riverview Rehabilitation. He has served for many years as Chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at St. John Macomb/Oakland Hospital and has been  rehabilitation director for several subacute and long-term acute care rehabilitation programs. Further, he serves as President of the Macomb/Oakland Hospital and has received awards for high achievement in patient satisfaction, including being voted, by the nursing staff, as a top caregiver. Dr. Ryan is a member of many national and local medical societies and is an assistant clinical professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine and Michigan State University School of Osteopathic Medicine.
In his private life he  enjoys tennis, basketball, golf and reading history. He is a gardener and has coached his children's soccer and baseball teams. Additionally, he volunteers for several local charities. Thank you, Dr. Ryan, for all that you contribute!
Krysten Salla, PT

Nominated by Sunny Roller: Krysten Salla has been my physical therapist for nine years. Being a polio survivor, I periodically need to check in with her to get a “tune-up.” And I thank the good Lord that she is still nearby, where I can go to her for treatment. Having the consistency of a dedicated therapist that knows my situation is a real bonus these days, because it seems that we often must teach a parade of physical therapists new to us all about post-polio issues—repeatedly.

But not Krysten! Over the years, she has been helping me adapt to the changes that my aging 73-year-old body continues to require. It is such a luxury to go to a healthcare professional that I trust. She not only understands the late effects of polio, but in reaching our therapy goals, she also makes room for my personal idiosyncrasies. She understands that I must pace myself, but she also knows when and how to be my personal cheerleader when it comes to moving forward.

Krysten believes in the “Theory of Yet,” which I love. When I say, “I can’t do this,” she says “yet.” One word is easy to hang on to. One word can be very powerful. Her Theory of Yet works for me because I know she is smart; she understands my strengths and limitations even when I do not. She has confidence in me, and she cares. Plus, she’s a lot of fun.

She has been my shining star for quite a while, and I am so filled with gratitude to have had such a wonderful therapist because I certainly have needed her. And I don’t want to give up, YET.

Statement from Krysten Salla, PT: As a physical therapist at the University of Michigan, I have been working at Michigan Medicine since I started my professional career in 2006. During the past 15 years, I have been part of many “rehab journeys” experienced by my inpatients and outpatients.

In terms of polio survivors, whether it be recovering from a sudden injury, having had major surgery or gradually weakening from post-polio syndrome, I have learned that each person has been affected by polio a little bit differently, and it is imperative to observe and understand those complicated differences.

My overall goal as a physical therapist is to help folks maintain and improve their quality of life. This may involve, for example, rehabilitating a painful shoulder, renewing the ability to stand and walk with braces, treating contractures, assessing seating and postures, or teaching a patient to transfer differently because the old way has become too difficult or too painful. Patients that had polio 50-60 years ago have adopted unique ways of navigating through life. My job is to “meet them where they are” and help them in any way I can, using my own training, skills and clinical experience.

One thing I find helpful is to monitor my post-polio clients in their own environments. We will often take time to meet for therapeutic assessment at their home, inside their car or even at their local recreation center. Watching how they maneuver and manage daily life is crucial. It helps us collaborate as partners so we can develop customized goals and a treatment plan that is realistic.

People who had polio have ingeniously adapted to their varying degrees of paralysis over the years by heeding the intricacies of their weaknesses and strengths. When change is called for, I have found that “taking baby steps” to alter lifelong habits seems to work best. I really strive to have an open-minded and honest relationship with these individuals who are well-experienced with long-term disability. Polio survivors have so much to teach us healthcare professionals—when we take the time to listen.

I feel truly honored to be nominated as a “Shining Star.” My post-polio patients are certainly shining stars in my life. They hold a sincerely special place in my heart, and it is truly gratifying to be a helping hand in their lives.

Want to nominate your own Shining Star?

You are invited to publicly convey your gratitude toward and provide well deserved recognition to that special health care worker – a person in the health care arena who really made a positive difference in your life. To spotlight your Shining Star:

  • Simply donate to PHI in honor of your special health care professional. This could be a doctor, psychologist, any type of therapist, chiropractor, nurse, dentist, home health aide or someone you know that has provided exceptional care and concern and helped you with your individual needs.

  • Submit a short biography and a photo of the person along with a paragraph or two about why you nominated them. Then send it to info@post-polio.org. We will follow up and contact you. If you need assistance with your submission or have questions, contact us at 314-534-0475.

  • You will be recognized as a donor in their honor. They will receive a letter of recognition and thank you from PHI, as well as a free subscription to Post-Polio Health