Omaha woman born without right hand now helps others facing limb loss
OMAHA, Neb. (KLKN) – This week, Gov. Pete Ricketts declared April limb loss awareness month in Nebraska.
More than 2 million Americans live with limb loss or limb difference, including an Omaha woman.
Jena Munson, 52, was born without her right hand, but that has never slowed her down.
“Growing up my parents didn’t treat me any different than my siblings, so I was actively involved and engaged in all different kinds of sports and recreation,” she said. “I taught myself how to tie my shoe, you know.”
Her congenital difference guided her to a career in rehabilitation as a recreation therapist at CHI Health Immanuel Hospital. Her love for softball and people made it an easy choice.
“I was going to go into the world of business and accounting, and my pitching coach knew that I was not really sure about that, and she knew my love for helping people and being around others and my love for sport and recreation,” Munson said. “And I would definitely say not having a hand probably is truly what guided me to the field that I do work in today.”
For the past 29 years, she has worked daily with those who have experienced limb loss, limb difference, amputations and other diagnoses, helping them live their life to the fullest through therapy and all types of sports.
Munson has helped expand the sports and leisure program within the hospital for persons with any physical impairments. It offers everything from waterskiing to golf to tennis.
She works side by side with Nebraska Adaptive Sports and other community organizations to make this all happen.
“Just because they have a physical impairment, doesn’t mean they have to stay home,” Munson said. “They should have a choice of wanting to participate in some type of physical activity, and even if it has to be done differently or requires maybe some type of special equipment to help them be successful, that’s OK.”
She encourages support groups and says Immanuel has plenty of resources available for those affected by limb loss.
“For people who maybe have a new amputation, that can be a devastating thing naturally, but to know that there are others out in the world that has been able to move forward, I guess you might say, it’s really important,” Munson said.