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Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023

ATHENA Winner

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Dr. Suzanne Tinsley accepts the 33rd Annual ATHENA Leadership Award

Dr. Suzanne Tinsley specializes in neurological physical therapy

When Dr. Suzanne Tinsley is asked why she does what she does – and she does a lot – her answer centers around a particular Bible verse.

“2 Corinthians talks about meeting the needs of God’s people. You can only imagine when someone has a stroke or a spinal cord injury. I can only imagine their prayers of ‘Please, God (or whomever their higher being is), let me walk again.’ For me to be that avenue of answered prayer, there isn’t a greater feeling than to see someone walk who couldn’t walk, or get off a mat or out of a chair who couldn’t do those things. That’s really what gives me pleasure, and why I’ve chosen to do what I do.”

What does Dr. Tinsley do? To list everything would take up most of the space in this publication. But for starters, she is the assistant vice chancellor for institutional advancement and assistant director for the Center for Brain Health at LSU Health Shreveport. Dr. Tinsley’s specialty in physical therapy is neurological physical therapy. She is the first board-certified neurologic physical therapist in Louisiana.

And now, the Shreveport native is recipient of the ATHENA International Leadership Award, recently awarded by the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce. Tinsley was one of 16 women nominated.

“I’m just extremely humbled and honored. When you look around the room at the other 15 women that were nominated, I was just shocked, because of the level and caliber of the other ladies in that room, and what they had done in their particular careers and particular paths, which was just outstanding. I’m just extremely, extremely honored.”

It wasn’t until the night before the 33rd Annual ATHENA Leadership Award Luncheon that Dr. Tinsley learned who nominated her.

“I was so determined for her to receive this recognition,” said longtime friend Linda Biernacki. “It took several times of me sending in her nomination, but I always knew she would win. She is an amazing, unassuming rock star – a mother, wife, friend, community member and doctor.”

Dr. Tinsley’s first love wasn’t the medical field. She wanted to be a basketball coach, having played in high school and junior college. But her exposure to health care – her mother was an X-ray technician for Dr. Overdyke and Dr. Bundrick at what was the Bone and Joint Clinic – led to Dr. Tinsley’s academic studies, which included a master’s degree and a PhD.

“I think it was my educational background saying, ‘Wow, the brain is so much more intriguing, and we don’t know a lot about it.’ I don’t mean this flippant, but sometimes when someone has a muscular skeletal injury, a pulled muscle, or something to that extent, that will get better. But when someone has had a devastating, life-changing event like a stroke or a brain injury, or has been diagnosed with severe Parkinson’s those are things that really are life-changing. It was that aspect which led me to think I want to do that. We all have the right to live the best quality of life we can have.”

It’s fitting Dr. Tinsley was recognized for what she’s done as a woman by being a recipient of the ATHENA award. Dr. Tinsley has, and wants to continue, helping females reach new heights.

“I have felt like I wanted to be a role model and make a path for people behind me. I have in a lot of ways busted at that ceiling, trying to make sure there are cracks and spaces so people behind me will have it easier than I’ve had it. I didn’t have anybody helping me. Back when I started, other women felt you were a threat. We don’t need to be a threat to each other. We need to help each other along the way.”

To get more information about the ATHENA award, you may visit www.athenainternational.org.

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