Alumna Discusses Brain Injury Rehab, Therapeutic Recreation as part of Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series

From the Spring 2011 RPTM Newsletter

Penn State alumna Joanne Finegan '83 is very close to her work—which deals with rehabilitating catastrophic injuries—partly because of her own history. As a 6-year-old child, Finegan was diagnosed with Legg-Calve Perthes Disease to one hip, which left her unable to walk. After two years of being non-weight bearing and using swimming as therapy, she recovered fully.

Joanne Finegan was the guest speaker for the Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series

In the process of overcoming this early setback, she developed a deep appreciation of the value of rehabilitation and exercise, and she has devoted much of her life to helping others and raising awareness of traumatic brain injuries. She climbed the career ladder quickly and is now CEO and managing partner of ReMed Recovery Care Centers, a rehabilitation and long-term care provider for people with acquired brain injury.

Finegan presented a speech on her career path, titled “Serious Play: A Recreation Therapist’s Journey through Teaching People the Importance of Fun after a Catastrophic Injury” this past fall on the University Park campus. The event was sponsored by the College of Health and Human Development Alumni Society.

Finegan received her degree in Recreation and Parks from Penn State in 1983 and a master’s degree in administration from West Chester University in 1990. She has worked throughout her career to educate others on the impact and lifelong effects of brain injury. She is a well-known presenter and publisher on key issues related to brain injury, such as funding and resources, long-term supports, adjustment, socialization, sexuality, recreation, and leisure.

Finegan has served on the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) as a board member, trustee, and chairman of the board in 2004. She has also served as the chairman of the board of the National Council on Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) and has been honored by the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA) as a Distinguished Fellow, the organization’s highest distinction, in 2005.

Currently, Finegan is an advisory board member at Penn State’s Brandywine campus. In 2007, she received the Alumni Recognition Award from Penn State’s Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management. She is the 2010 recipient of the Alumni Service Award from the College of Health and Human Development Alumni Society.

The Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series was established by the Board of Directors of the College of Health and Human Development Alumni Society in order to feature prominent graduates of the college who are leaders in their field. The board’s mission is to facilitate and promote the participation of alumni in activities that support the college’s pursuit of excellence.

Mark Mintzer (left), past president, HHD Alumni Society Board, Joanne Finegan (center), and Dr. Ann C. Crouter (right), Raymond E. and Erin Stuart Schultz Dean of the College of Health and Human Development.