<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=837181686386229&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Permobil Blog / June 27, 2024

Permobil Portrait: Joel Strain

This month, we are profiling Joel Strain, who has been a territory manager for Kansas and Western Missouri at Permobil for the past two years. He started off his career as an occupational therapist, where he could help others like himself with spinal cord injuries. Joel is grateful for the opportunity to help grow Permobil’s business and use his OT skills as he interacts with various ATPs, end-users, and providers.

Growing Up

I grew up in Wichita, KS, with four other brothers. Together, we’d watch basketball, fish, run around outside, climb trees, build tree houses, and camp. It was the typical Midwestern upbringing.

Basketball was such a huge part of my life; my ambitions were to one day be a professional basketball player in the NBA. 

But those dreams were dashed one Sunday afternoon in 2004, when driving with my mother, father, and younger brother. We hit a truck head-on. My mother and brother passed away in the crash. My father and I survived, but I sustained a spinal cord injury that required me to use a wheelchair. I was only 16 years old, and that moment completely changed my life.

Changing Gears
During my undergraduate experience at Friends University in Wichita, KS, I studied health management and health and physical education with the dream of living in Colorado and helping people through adaptive skiing.  

I switched gears to a degree and did a senior internship in a sports management realm. I was involved with marketing for a sports and entertainment venue. I was then admitted to a graduate program in sports management and hit the brakes.

I thought about my career outlook and wanted to combine my passion to help others with my technical experience and undergraduate studies. That led me to occupational therapy (OT) and starting OT school, where I met my wife. We both worked at HCA Midwest Health hospitals for 5 years before I joined Permobil.


Joel Strain poses with a cow on his trip to India.

In 2014, I visited Christian Medical College in Vellore, India for about a month during occupational therapy school at the University of Kansas. During that time, I learned that we all may come from different places and different contexts, but we are all bound by our shared humanity. We all have the same challenges with disability, the same dreams, and the same daily routines. I was reminded of myself after meeting another paraplegic. He was a 17-year-old who fell off a palm tree and had a T10 spinal cord injury. I also had the same injury around the same age, though my injury stemmed from a car accident. 

From OT to Sales
As a paraplegic since 16, I’ve been in a TiLite chair for years. At the same time, I had been looking into ways to leverage my therapy background into new adventures and challenges. I found the Permobil job posting and applied. Around the same time, my Permobil sales representative John Wilson showed up with an ATP to fit me for a new chair. I did not mention that I had applied, but I got a first-hand view of what the job entailed.

photo 3

Joel Strain with his three boys, aged 1, 3, and 5. 
In my current role as territory sales manager, I manage and expand territory base business and growth by promoting, selling, and supporting Permobil product lines. This includes building, developing, maintaining internal and external customer and client relationships; researching and identifying customer’s needs to ultimately propose solutions and create demand.
With this role and OT generally, it comes down to helping people access their lives. I’m still “therapy adjacent” in this role and I still get to be a part of helping individuals achieve their goals, live their lives, and maximize participation. Every day seems to be a new adventure, whether it is helping an end-user, problem solving with an ATP, or working with therapists. Some of the most impactful work has been getting veterans in sports chairs and giving people access to standing.
Faith, Family, and Fun

My proudest role is being a dad to three boys aged 1, 3, and 5 and husband to my beautiful wife Renae. We are also very involved with our close-knit church community. I host a small group at my home every week. I never would have wanted to have this disability, but God has used my difficulties to help other people through similar challenges. I continue to pray for a miracle that I’ll walk again, but in the meantime, I’m making the most of life.  


Joel Strain with his whole family.
If you haven’t already guessed, I am a huge skier, and you can find me hitting the slopes wherever there is snow. I also love traveling, and have been to Scotland, Norway, Greece, India, Malaysia, and Singapore. Hopefully, I’ll hit Sweden too and visit the Permobil headquarters. 
I’m also a die-hard basketball fan and love watching college basketball. It takes me back to playing basketball in the backyard with my four brothers and other neighborhood kids. 
Joel Strain takes a jump while adaptive skiing.

Rapid fire questions:

Favorite restaurant?
That’s a tough one. I’d say this local Mexican restaurant that has the best breakfast burrito I’ve ever had - Red Kitchen KC: Cien por Ciento Mexicana. I also enjoy take out Ramen or Pho.

What is your favorite season and why?
Winter because of skiing.

If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?
Arthur Dell Strain, my grandfather. He drove a tank in WW2 and lived the rest of his life serving other people. He died before I was old enough to truly appreciate it.

What is your favorite movie of all time?
I really enjoy all the Bourne movies.

TiLite celebrates 25 years of excellence

Categories: Complex Rehab, Seating and Positioning, Manual, End Users, Clinician, User, End User

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts