On With Life’s history began with the dream of a dedicated, passionate group of survivors and their families, faced with the challenge of rebuilding lives shattered by brain injury. They envisioned a program that would provide post-acute brain injury rehabilitation services to persons with brain injury after they were medically stable enough to leave the hospital.

On With Life, Inc. was incorporated in 1987 as a not-for-profit organization, named by one of the survivors who stated, “I just want to get on with my life.” This courageous group overcame almost insurmountable challenges and their “never give up” attitude eventually paid off. In 1989, one Girl Scout’s “rocking chair” marathon project in honor of a school student hit by a drunk driver provided $10,000 initial seed money for “the future On With Life Head Trauma Center”. Shortly after this donation, the City of Ankeny made an amazing commitment to On With Life and issued $3.9 million in municipal bonds to build a 25,000 square foot facility.

Groundbreaking occurred in August of 1990 and approximately one year later in August of 1991, On With Life’s Brain Injury Rehabilitation program opened in Ankeny, Iowa. The $4.3 million-dollar building was specifically designed and built to provide brain injury rehabilitation services.

Historic Notes

  • On With Life’s Post-Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation Program was accredited as a “Comprehensive Integrated Inpatient Rehabilitation Program – Brain Injury” in 1997, 2000, 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016, one of only a handful of brain injury rehabilitation programs in the world to achieve this status operating outside of a hospital, and the only one not owned by a hospital or large nursing home chain.
  • In 1992 the On With Life Foundation was formed.
  • In 1996 the On With Life Long-Term Skilled Care Program for Youth and Younger Adults opened in Glenwood, Iowa. In 1996 they had 22 skilled nursing beds and expanded to 32 in 1999.
  • In 1997 On With Life became the first provider of Iowa Medicaid’s Brain Injury Waiver program.
  • In 2003 On With Life was awarded a $1.2 million dollar grant to build 14 independent living apartments, known as the Apartments of OWL Creek, for low income persons with brain injury.
  • In 2011 the On With Life Outpatient Neuro Rehabilitation program opened in a house located southeast of the Inpatient program.