Indiana State University Newsroom

Patients, students benefit from Indiana State efforts at community clinic

March 25, 2015

With each visit to Indiana State University's exercise therapy clinic at the Wabash Valley Health Center, Tammy McCoy feels a little healthier and a little stronger.

At mid-life, the Sullivan woman knows she needs to reduce her weight in order to live a longer, more productive life.

A bicycle accident that shattered his shoulder sent Scott Keller of Clinton to the clinic. With the help of an Indiana State professor and student, he has been able to resume riding his bike as well as other activities.

McCoy and Keller are just two of the hundreds of patients who have benefited from the work of Indiana State students and faculty members at the not-for-profit clinic during the past five years.

While McCoy has yet to drop any pounds since she began coming to the clinic in September, she has felt the benefit of Indiana State's exercise therapy program.

"It's showing in endurance and the way I look," she said. "My clothes fit differently and I'm a lot stronger than I was."

Working with students serves to motivate McCoy.

"It keeps me young and energized and I want to help benefit their learning experience. I think for them I always try just a little bit harder," she said.

"We do a supervised exercise program for patients of the clinic that need a little extra push to get into a regular exercise routine," said Tricia Pierce, an exercise science instructor in Indiana State's department of kinesiology, recreation and sport. "This program provides patients an opportunity to exercise in a safe environment ... without having to pay for membership to a fitness center."

The cost savings is a huge factor for many of the health center's patients who continue to lack health insurance, or find themselves with high deductibles, despite passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

"I would never be able to make the payments for the therapy I get here," said Keller. "And the quality of care that I get here is amazing. These guys really know they're stuff."

Keller works with Tim Demchak, associate professor of applied medicine and rehabilitation, and Zach Manley, a senior athletic training major.

Demchak said he's always had a passion to help the community and Indiana State has allowed him to obtain grants to establish the rehabilitation clinic where he and students can help patients.

"The patients that students see are very unique. They don't have straight up textbook injuries so the students have to think and my job is to help them connect the dots and gain a better understanding of the patients and their injuries," he said.

"In class, it's all textbook stuff," said Manley. "When you get here, you realize there's nothing really textbook so you have to critically think and try and figure out what's going on."

Exercise science major Nikki Copp, a senior from Noblesville, said while the work she does at the clinic is part of a class requirement, she enjoys it.

"You see people who don't normally get out and exercise a lot and we get to help them," she said. "I feel like, without us, they're just going to hang out on their couch and watch Maury (Povich) all day."

Students said they like being able to learn while helping people at the same time.

"It's a learning experience. This is really the first thing I've done in the field," said junior exercise science major Collin Wollenmann of Ferdinand. "Taking (patients') blood pressure, monitoring their heart rate and oxygen is good practice and you get to see what you're doing to them. A lot of them have high blood pressure so it's really nice to see how much the workout is actually helping."

Patients have goals for themselves beyond their own health.

"My long-term goal is to walk in a charity walk for Alzheimer's awareness or something like that. I want to do that by the time I'm 50 and that's in three years. It's a doable, long-term goal," McCoy said.

After just a few weekly sessions with Demchak and Manley, Keller has already been able to resume riding his bike - something he was told he would not be able to do again - and perform his own household repairs. But he's achieved another goal that is dearer to him.

"I get to pick up my grandson and play with him and that was a worry for me," he said.

Indiana State's clinic at the Wabash Valley Health Center has doubled in size since opening in 2009 and, thanks to grants and donations, also features new equipment, including a stepper and a stationary bicycle.

Patients and students respect one another and that mutual respect benefits both groups.

"Everyone is really genuine. It's not just a class for them. They truly want to see you succeed and be a part of your journey," McCoy said.

"These patients are some of the most thankful and grateful patients I've worked with it," said Manley. "They've been pushed off on the back burner. No one really wants to help them, but it feels good to actually help them get back on their feet, back on their job, whatever they're doing. So it does feel good to give back to the community.


Photo: - Tricia Pierce, center, an Indiana State University exercise science instructor, discusses a patient with students Nikki Copp and Collen Wollenmann at the Wabash Valley Health Center Feb. 26, 2015. (ISU/Rachel Keyes)

Photo: - Nikki Copp, a senior exercise science major, checks a patient's blood oxygen content at Indiana State University's at Indiana State University's exercise therapy clinic at the Wabash Valley Health Center Feb. 26, 2015. (ISU/Rachel Keyes)

Photo: - Zach Manley, a junior athletic training major at Indiana State University, examines a patient's leg at the university's rehabilitation clinic, located inside the Wabash Valley Health Center, Feb. 24, 2015. (ISU/Rachel Keyes)

Contact: Tricia Pierce, exercise science instructor, department of kinesiology, recreation and sport, College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services, Indiana State University,

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or