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of congratulations to Bernadette
January 9, 2014 - Approximately one in 2,000 children has a stroke around the time of birth. And 25 percent of these strokes result in weakness on one side of the body (in some cases causing what is more widely known as cerebral palsy).
That’s a statistic on which Bernadette Gillick, assistant professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School, hopes to make an impact.
Specifically, she’s utilizing 20 years in clinical work as a pediatric physical therapist and a PhD in rehabilitation science and neuroscience to identify and test new interventions designed to help stroke-impaired children increase their motor function.
These new interventions use electric and magnetic currents to stimulate brain cells in combination with behavioral therapies. The methods do not require surgery or even sedation.
The place this happens – the Gillick Pediatric Neuromodulation Research Lab – is funded by such prestigious sources as the National Institutes of Health, and is one of only two labs in the world doing this particular work.
Throughout Bernadette’s ground-breaking professional journey, she has found inspiration through the Jesuits. “I’ve had a wonderful career that has taken me to several different cities and, fortunately, I was able to find Jesuits everywhere I went – although it wasn’t even a conscious search,” she explains.
It all started when she was growing up. “I thought everyone had Jesuits coming to their house for dinner,” laughs this niece of Fr. Larry Gillick, SJ (today the director of the Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality at Creighton University).
Then, studying at Marquette University strengthened the bond – “through encouragement of service and theological challenge that was incorporated in being a student there,” she says. “It contributed to my feeling that I have gifts – like everyone does – and have an obligation to use those gifts to try to help other people.
”In education and work that followed – at Loyola (Chicago) and Seattle Universities – and volunteer roles with L’Arche and Creighton’s Institute for Latin American Concern in the Dominican Republic – she has continued to feel the Jesuit presence enriching her life.
If you'd like to read about others who are Living the Jesuit Mission, please click here.