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When Shawn Sansbury goes to work each day, she and her co-workers might help an accident victim recover their ability to dress or bath themselves, or help someone who suffered a stroke learn how to form words, swallow, and speak again.
Ms. Sansbury, a speech language pathologist, is director of rehabilitation at HCR ManorCare's Heartland Rehabilitation Services facility in Perrysburg, where she has worked six years.
"It's very rewarding helping other people," she said. "It can be rewarding, but it can also be sad," for example, if a person who had a stroke won't be able to recover all their mobility and functions.
She and her staff help patients recover from surgeries, such as knee replacements, debilitating illnesses such as Parkinson's and Lou Gehrig's diseases, and traumas such as hip fractures and brain injuries.
They help patients with walking, learning how to transfer from a wheelchair to a bed or chair, and how to handle daily activities, among them bathing and dressing.
Ms. Sansbury began her career in the health field early, volunteering at Flower Hospital in Sylvania when she was in high school.
"I knew that I wanted to do something in the health field," Ms. Sansbury said.
A Toledo native, Ms. Sansbury is a 1986 graduate of St. Ursula Academy.
After receiving her bachelor's degree from Norfolk State University in Virginia and her master's degree from St. Louis University in Missouri, she completed a clinical fellowship year of additional training under a licensed speech pathologist and passed an exam.
She now supervises physical, occupational, and speech therapy at Heartland, overseeing 18 employees.
"I guess I see my job as giving back to the community," she said.
Helping others is a big part of Ms. Sansbury's character, said Edna Robertson of Toledo, a family friend.
"That's just the nature of Shawn," Ms. Robertson said. "That's just who she is."
Ms. Sansbury's eventual goal is to return to school once her daughter is older.
She would like to receive a doctorate, go into private practice, and donate her work to patients who can't afford speech services.
In the meantime, Ms. Sansbury, a single mother, enjoys spending time with her 4-year-old daughter, Haley.
"She keeps me very, very, busy," Ms. Sansbury said.
The two particularly enjoy trying new restaurants.
Their favorite places to eat include Bravo! and The Elephant Bar. She also enjoys spending time with other family and friends, including her parents, Joseph and Jettie Sansbury. Her father, now retired, was a principal for the Toledo Public Schools, and her mother, also retired, is a former social worker and administrator with the Lucas County Department of Job and Family Services.
Ms. Sansbury's sister, Amy, is also in public service, working for the Department of Justice.
"My parents have been very instrumental throughout my life," Ms. Sansbury said.
When not working or with her family, Ms. Sansbury stays busy with several community service organizations, including Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Toledo Chapter of Links Inc., Zonta Club of Toledo, and St. Philip Lutheran Church.
Rhonda Sewell, a longtime friend of Ms. Sansbury, is involved in several of the same organizations.
"On a personal level, [Shawn] has a quiet grace and dignity," Ms. Sewell said. "But underneath it all, if you are privileged enough to get past that, you see a fascinating individual."
Ms. Sansbury chose a career that requires a great deal of compassion - "and that's what she has," Ms. Sewell added.
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