Soaring

State-of-the-art laser treatment gives WWII fighter pilot a lift.

At 95 years young, George Pasternack refuses to accept the title of “hero.” But how else would you describe someone who flew dozens of combat missions during World War II and still takes to the skies on occasion even today?

George Pasternack and Mary Suggs were treated for neuropathy and shingles respectively with the Class IV laser.

Even at age 95, George is
still flying high.

“I joined the service right after I got out of high school and got into the war right after the Battle of Midway,” the Spring Hill resident explains. “I used to fly off carriers in the South Pacific and all that stuff, and I’m still flying.

“I have three planes that I used to own that I have access to, and when I go back home to North Dakota in the summertime, I usually take them up. People ask me all the time, When are you going to quit flying? I tell them, When I get older.”

Records show that George is the oldest World War II pilot still licensed and flying in the United States, but he was recently grounded after he began experiencing a great deal of unsteadiness and imbalance issues while walking.

“I was feeling like I was going to fall over and found that I was walking all hunched over and bent at the waist, the way older people do,” George says with a snicker. “Whenever I stood up or tried to walk, I felt that way.”

The issues eventually forced George to begin walking with a cane. When the deacon at his church noticed that, he immediately urged George to visit Regional Rehab, where the deacon himself had received some care for a similar problem a few months earlier.

Laser Light Show

“When George first came to us, I thought he was suffering from dizziness, because he was very unsteady,” recalls Paul Ernandes, PT, PhD, at Regional Rehab. “But after I examined him, I realized it was neuropathy in his lower legs that was causing
the imbalance.”

To correct the problem, Paul recommended a combination of manual therapy and treatment with the Class IV deep tissue therapeutic laser, which uses specific wavelengths of red and near-infrared light to stimulate the body’s natural ability to heal cells.

Paul says the laser acts like a “snowplow on a winter’s street” by releasing nitric oxide, which removes congestion and swelling and promotes faster healing while reducing discomfort and increasing blood circulation.

“The Class IV laser is an impressive and versatile tool,” adds Charles Donley, PT, director of Regional Rehab. “We’ve used it for burn and wound patients as well as for all the different musculoskeletal issues we typically treat, such as acute, chronic and postoperative pain.”

The combination of the manual therapy, which included a series of stretching and balance exercises, and the Class IV laser treatments helped George regain his stability and got him back on his feet again.

“Once we were able to stretch him out, George did great with the balance exercises,” Paul confirms. “But it was the laser treatment that made the biggest difference and really helped him with the sensation in his legs.”

George concurs, and adds that he was at a point where he was almost afraid to leave his house because he feared he might lose his balance and fall. Now, that summer trip to North Dakota to fly his old private planes is back on his schedule.

The Magic Touch

“The people there are all just so tremendous, and Paul and I hit it off right away,” George exudes. “His knowledge and level of professionalism are just remarkable, and as soon as he started working on me, I knew I was in the right place.

“I had so much confidence that what he was doing for me was going to help me, and when we were done, I came out of there feeling like my old self again. And that’s saying a lot because I really had lost a lot of stability.

“I’d lost so much stability, it was almost scary. I was almost falling over whenever I tried to walk, but he took care of that and helped me one hundred percent. I’m not kidding you when I say Paul has that magic touch, because I feel so much better now.”

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    • Regional Rehab

      Regional Rehab's ultimate goal is to enrich people’s lives by helping to enhance their physical and mental well being, creating an atmosphere of quality care and optimum healing with a loving touch.... Read More

    • Charles C. Donley, PT

      Charles C. Donley, PT, is director of Regional Rehab. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Therapy, graduating cum laude, from the University of Pittsburgh, PA. He is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association and Fl... Read More