Inventors are inspirational. Sandra Welner was an inventor, physician, educator, and advocate for disabled women’s healthcare. She invented the Welner table that allows for easy transfer from a wheelchair and has modifications for disabled physicians to perform examinations as well.
Sandra Welner was born in 1958 and raised with two brothers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Hillel Academy in 1975 as the valedictorian and as a National Merit Scholar. She then attended Lehigh University and enrolled in an accelerated medical education program. In 1981, she earned her medical degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania. She did further training in obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University.
She started her career as a surgeon and an infertility specialist directing a women’s health clinic in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1987, she had a cardiac arrest while at a hospital in the Netherlands. She suffered neurological impairments that affects her mobility, vision, and fine-motor skills. It is inspiring that after five years of rehabilitation she was able to resume a career in medicine, although not as a surgeon. She focused on primary care for disabled women. Her practice was in Washington D.C., so she consulted with federal agencies as well. She was, also, an educator of obstetrics and gynecology at Georgetown University and the University of Maryland.
Her work with disabled patients led to her invention of the Welner table. This table is in production and can be found in clinics worldwide. It is a universally-accessible examination table that helps the patient and a disabled physician with a wide range of positions. Sandra Welner, unfortunately, died in 2001 as a result from an apartment fire. Her legacy and inspiration is evident. She was co-editing Welner’s Guide to the Care of Women with Disabilities. It was published in 2003. Also posthumously, in 2004, she was inducted into the National Hall of Fame for Persons with Disabilities. Her friend, Jeffrey Lovitky, was the successful lead attorney in the American Council of the Blind v. Paulson. He has claimed that Welner’s experiences handling money led him to taking this case that resulted in requiring the United States Treasury Department to redesign paper money.
Sometimes life has a way of changing our paths, however Sandra Welner proves that our new path can be a positive and/or inspiring one as well. Be inspired! Have a bright day!