For the media

Rehabilitation services at Sharp inspire local creator

By The Health News Team | July 2, 2024
Al Wubenhorst of San Diego at the Sharp Allison deRose Rehabilitation Center

“All of my therapists are amazing to work with,” says Al. “I appreciate that Sharp has different types of services that can assist me.”

One to two times per week, Alan “Al” Wubenhorst visits his physical and occupational therapists at the Sharp Metropolitan Medical Campus, which includes the Sharp Allison deRose Rehabilitation Center, an acute care inpatient facility that helps patients regain or maintain their strength. The center also offers outpatient rehabilitation services, such as hand therapy, recreation therapy and a comprehensive pain program.

While there, Al’s physical therapist, Paige Kettenburg, guides him through various exercises, such as transferring out of his wheelchair and strengthening his core and lower extremities. She also helps him with gait training — a set of exercises that supports walking, posture and balance.

“I got a referral to receive rehabilitation services, and I’ve gotten outpatient services at Sharp for a long time,” says Al. “I started seeing Paige last summer, and she also helped connect me to get my wheelchair fixed at Sharp.”

A variety of services in one location

Kettenburg evaluated Al and determined he was a candidate for physical, occupational and speech therapy due to having arteriovenous malformations. The condition occurs when blood vessels form improperly, leading to muscle weakness.

Physical, occupational and speech therapy not only help people who become injured but also assist individuals with various conditions, Kettenburg says. Exercises and adaptive tools can help people with disabilities maintain their function and increase independence.

Because Al’s condition affected his balance, Kettenburg evaluated Al’s seating and positioning for a new manual wheelchair. The Allsion DeRose Rehabilitation Center’s several services include rehabilitation engineers that help patients with their assistive equipment, such as making adjustments for better fit and use.

Kettenburg also connected Al to Sara Connelly, an occupational therapist at the Rehabilitation Center.

“Like Paige, I also help Al with exercises, but mine focus on arms, forearms, wrists and hands,” says Connelly. “I try to help Al find adaptive techniques for self-feeding and quicker dressing.”

Meanwhile, Meghan Mallory, a speech language pathologist at the same rehabilitation center, helps Al with exercises to make his swallowing easier. She recommended a straw that helps him better control the amount of liquid that comes through when drinking beverages.

What’s more, Al works with a social worker who helps him address the financial, emotional and social needs that may arise from his disability.

“All of my therapists are amazing to work with,” says Al. “And I appreciate that Sharp has different types of services that can assist me.”

Creativity has no limits

The therapies that Al receives at Sharp inspired him to create a podcast to interview other people with disabilities and the medical professionals who work with them. “I think the work that people with disabilities produce can oftentimes be overlooked, so I’d love to highlight them by, say, interviewing different band members in music groups who have disabilities,” says Al.

Al has used his own creativity to write films, television shows and comics, and realized that writing was therapeutic for him. He says this helped him through times when he found living with a disability difficult.

“If you don’t see someone like you being represented, it can hurt your self-esteem,” he says. “But by working on what I love to do, I’ve found that my disability has only made me a better person who is more empathetic and understanding.”

Al’s experiences have also inspired him teach a comic book course to encourage people with disabilities. “I’ve come to a point in my life where if I had the opportunity to not have a disability, I would not accept it,” he says. “I am a stronger person because of who I am.”

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Paige Kettenburg of Sharp HealthCare

Paige Kettenburg


Paige Kettenburg is a physical therapist at the Sharp Allison deRose Rehabilitation Center.

Sara Connelly of Sharp HealthCare

Sara Connelly


Sara Connelly is an occupational therapist at the Sharp Allison deRose Rehabilitation Center.


Meghan Mallory


Meghan Mallory is a speech language pathologist at the Sharp Allison deRose Rehabilitation Center.

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