BENNETT - Dr. Susan
We are deeply saddened to share the news of the passing of our friend and colleague Dr. Susan Bennett. Sue dedicated her life to serving her patients, students, and our profession. For over 40 years, she worked tirelessly on behalf of others. Whatever Sue put her heart into flourished with her natural leadership ability and steadfast integrity. Sue chose to dedicate her life to advancing the rehabilitation profession to provide a more comprehensive experience for patients and their caregivers. Within her specialty area of neurological rehabilitation, Sue had a unique interest in Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Sue often spoke of the experience that shifted the trajectory of her career. At a roundtable meeting, a person with MS challenged her by stating that physical therapists had “no idea how to treat” people with the disease. Sue took this message to heart and along with her mentor, Dr. Lawrence Jacobs, she initiated one of the very first studies examining how exercise affects MS symptoms and quality of life. She always said “and guess what…. they got better!” With the evidence to support her, Sue developed an MS wellness program that encouraged exercise, socialization and interaction with her students. Many of her students that worked in the wellness program went on to focus their careers in neurological rehabilitation. Fast forward 28 years: Sue’s one-time solo practice has grown to include 24 employees and Sue herself has become a national pioneer in the field of rehabilitation for individuals with Multiple Sclerosis. Sue invested significant personal time mentoring and grooming the clinicians within her practice who have gone on to become experts in rehab for multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, vestibular/balance disorders, post-concussion syndrome, and other neuromusculoskeletal conditions.. In combination with her vast clinical expertise, Sue’s background in health science education made her a highly regarded educator within the University at Buffalo and D’Youville College Doctor of Physical Therapy Programs. She also held faculty appointments within the Neurology and Neurosurgery departments at UB. Her natural leadership and constant determination to influence positive change also made her a very powerful professional advocate. She held the position of President for both the New York Physical Therapy Association and the preeminent international organization in MS care, the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers. Her accolades are too vast to mention them all, and she would be the first one to gloss over them. Her main concern was always for others. Outside of her practice and professional service, Sue was dedicated to helping those in her community. For many years she celebrated Thanksgiving by making and delivering meals to her homebound patients. Sue even spent time mentoring foster children. She loved to travel to the national parks and was an avid bike rider. She was never one to turn down a happy hour with colleagues and friends, and often initiated them. She also had an incredibly caring heart for all animals, but specifically golden retrievers. Her most recent rescue was a senior golden name Dawson. Sue made sure that both Dawson and her cat, Molly, will be well cared for and Dawson will continue have a presence at the clinic! From her first experience with physical therapy until her last weeks of life, Sue was dedicated to improving patients’ quality of life, even while battling her own physical symptoms. In an enduring act to serve our Western New York community, Sue and her partners formed a not-for-profit organization, The WNY Center for Neurologic Wellness (est. 2015), whose vision statement is to “Live to your fullest capacity.” This organization provides and supports wellness services for individuals with varied neurologic conditions. Sue has touched the lives of many thousands of families, friends, patients, students, and health care providers. Anyone who ever met Sue has immediately sensed her kindness, devotion, and focus on improving the lives of others. While we are devastated by the loss of our friend and leader, we are also comforted knowing that Sue has imparted her values of service, dedication, and compassion on to all who knew her. She was so much to so many people. She will be deeply, deeply missed. With determination to honor Sue’s legacy, Lacey Bromley, Jacob McPherson and the rest of the Bennett Rehabilitation Family. In leu of flowers, donations can be made to any of the multiple charities Sue loved to support:
WNY Center for Neurological Wellness Inc (Sue’s not-for-profit that provides wellness services, educational programing, and other outreach initiatives for individuals with neurologic conditions): Checks can be made out to “WNY Center for Neurological Wellness, Inc” and sent to Bennett Rehabilitation Institute, 2075 Sheridan Drive, Kenmore, NY, 14223 (website coming soon); National Parks Foundation; Roswell Park Alliance Foundation; National Multiple Sclerosis Society; Foundation of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers; New Directions; Lymphoma & Leukemia Society. Arrangements made by AMIGONE FUNERAL HOME.
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