1970-2000 The largest separate unit
The department of neurology and the rehabilitation research unit were merged into the Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation (NEKU) in 1994. The idea mongers and implementers of these organizational changes were the first regular professor in neurology at the University of Tampere Harry Frey and chief physician in rehabilitation dr. Taisto Siirtola. The project was supported by medical director professor Arto Uusitalo and chief administrative physician dr. Turkka Tunturi. A part of this project was the opening of rehabilitation ward 24B in the Pikonlinna hospital on March, 14th, 1994for the acute and subacute rehabilitation needs of neurological and neurosurgical patients. The ward achieved an established position on Jan 1st, 1997. The ward had 12 beds. The first senior ward physician was specialist in internal medicine dr. Hannu Metsänen, who served a long time in this post, and the first head nurse was ms. Hannele Laitinen. After her the head nurse’s post was held by ms. Seija Alanen.
Rehabilitation ward 24B was located on the fourth floor in the Pikonlinna hospital. It specialized in the rehabilitation of patients suffering from stroke, traumatic brain damage, and other nerve damage. The ward also conducted comprehensive evaluation of rehabilitation needs. The large, airy wards were well-suited for neurological patients: the spacious rooms situated along a long corridor were particularly ideal, since patients or rehabilitation clients stayed in the ward for 3-5 weeks on the average. Since there was plenty of space around the beds rehabilitation clients were able to turn their wheel chairs around without any problems, which helped to make longer stays more tolerable. This was a distinctive contrast in comparison to rooms in any ward of the central hospital’s main building in Tampere.
An important cooperation partner of the rehabilitation ward 24B was German physician and expert, Prof. Dr. Giselher Schalow, who had preciously worked for ten years in the Nottwil Paraplegic Centre in Switzerland. The rehabilitation of tetraplegics in Switzerland is centered in Nottwil. Prof. Dr Schalow educated the staff of ward 24B on the principles of coordination dynamics therapy which he had developed; the ward purchased equipment which facilitated the implementation of his therapy. During his visits Prof. Dr. Schalow’s demonstrations in English and his exceptional enthusiasm created an atmosphere of efficiency and a desire to make an impact.
The park surrounding the Pikonlinna hospital building was a pleasant place and could be described as an environmental factor that shortened treatment periods. It is hard to imagine a more beautiful and peaceful place where to take the first steps outdoors after a stroke and extended rehabilitation.