Health

Thursday, Mar 21 2013 07:55 AM

Neuro Skills opens new location in Bakersfield

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Chris Persel is the Director of Rehabilitation and Behavior Programming at the Centre for Neuro Skills in Bakersfield.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Chris Persel stands in the lobby of the new building of the Centre for Neuro Skills. He is the Director of Rehabilitation and Behavior Programming at the Centre for Neuro Skills in Bakersfield.

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  3. 3 of 5

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Chris Persel stands in the lobby of the new building of the Centre for Neuro Skills. He is the Director of Rehabilitation and Behavior Programming at the Centre for Neuro Skills in Bakersfield.

    click to expand click to collapse
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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Therapist Ashley Devolld, left and Tiffany Valdes work with a patient during a pool therapy session at the new Centre for Nuero Skills at 5215 Ashe Road in Bakersfield.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Former Marine John Kerchner does rehabilitation therapy on a treadmill at the Centre for Nuero Skills as he recovers from an accident. Jayme Bennett, left, is a neuro rehab specialist at the Centre for Nuero Skills.

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BY RACHEL COOK Californian staff writer rcook@bakersfield.com

The Centre for Neuro Skills opened in Bakersfield in 1980 with fewer than a dozen employees, and several patients.

Today the company employs 660 people -- 325 in Bakersfield -- and has locations in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay area and Dallas. The Bakersfield branch has worked with patients from all 50 states, as well as other countries, executives said.

On Wednesday the company, which specializes in post-acute brain injury rehabilitation, will celebrate the grand opening of its new, multimillion-dollar space in Bakersfield.

The 25,000-square-foot location is a bump up from the center's 14,000-square-foot space on Mount Vernon Avenue, where the clinic had been housed since 1982, according to the company. Staff members have been working in the new flagship clinic on Ashe Road since December.

The company's corporate headquarters will stay in Bakersfield. Mark J. Ashley, founder, president and CEO, said the business brings millions of dollars into the community each year. He said Bakersfield has been great for the business -- a place that is understanding and accepting of those with disabilities.

"When (people with brain injuries) come here, they don't know what they've lost, and they don't know how much of it's going to remain lost to them. And so when you can come to a community like this and have (that) kind of warmth and caring, it matters. It's palpable," Ashley said.

The center had plans for a new Bakersfield location before the recession hit but decided to wait things out, Ashley said. It later acquired the building on Ashe Road that is less than two miles from the clinic's residential housing, and the company worked with local architectural firm Skarphol Associates to make the facility meet the center's needs. Ashley pegged the new clinic costs in the $8 million range.

"(The new building has) given the clinicians more room to move, and the patients more room to move," Ashley said.

The facility houses an array of services including physical therapy, occupational therapy and counseling. There's a kitchen for cooking groups, a relaxation room complete with full-body massage chairs, and a therapeutic pool. The center also boasts a Zero-G gait and balance system, which can bear part of a client's weight and catch them if they falter.

"We pack it into one location so (patients) can get a very intense treatment setting," said Chris Persel, the center's director of rehabilitation, while providing a tour of the brightly lit building Monday.

The center has 86 beds for patients in town and houses about 40 people in long-term care, Persel said. The business also has a day treatment program for local folks that draws some from outer-lying areas such as Visalia, Persel said.

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