Over 30 years ago, Dr. Tom Carlstrom, a recently retired Des Moines neurosurgeon, answered a call from eight families whose loved ones had experienced a brain injury to discuss a vision for a post-acute rehab program. Dr. Carlstrom played an integral role in the founding of On With Life. He served on both its operational and foundation boards for more than 25 years and retired in 2015.
What was your interest in helping create On With Life?
I wanted to provide a post-hospital venue for the continued rehabilitation of individuals with brain injury, as they are a very distinct group and had limited options in the 1980s. On With Life has bridged the gap between hospital and home and has made brain injury less frightening and disabling than it used to be. I have seen many patients make amazing progress at On With Life with patience, hard work and the expertise of the On With Life team.
What makes On With Life so unique and special?
The organization is unique in that the entire On With Life team is extremely dedicated to the individuals they serve. Long-term prognosis is often difficult to predict and progress is sometimes slow to see, but the staff takes these individuals and makes them whole again. On With Life does it best.
What drew you to support the On With Life mission all of these years?
I've been on several non-profit boards, but this is the best. Serving on the On With Life board has provided me with some of the proudest moments in my career. On With Life has done a great job of creating an extremely effective program, and I love to share that I've been involved in the process.