Posted on 10/7/2020
Up until a few months ago, my life as a physical therapist was pretty normal. I went to work, did my job, helped my patients and team to the best of my ability and went back home. At the time I was working in a critical illness recovery hospital with some of the sickest patients in my geographic area, people recovering from major trauma and significant illnesses. I was part of a great team, but it was heavy work. I felt myself becoming burnt out and struggling to do my best work. I have done hospital-based and outpatient work throughout my career, so I began to think that a transfer to Select Medical’s Outpatient Division might be my next move.
Fast forward a few months and interviews later and I accepted a site supervisor position at an outpatient center. About a month into my new role, COVID-19 wreaks havoc on the world. It was a daily pivot in terms of center operations and managing a team during a global crisis. I was also in a really unique position because I had spent almost 10 years working in critical illness, learning about cardiopulmonary physical therapy, infectious diseases and protective equipment. I felt confident I could lead my team effectively with the best information I had. As we started to move through the pandemic, our greater area was looking for someone to help lead a developing COVID-19 recovery program and I felt uniquely qualified.
Select Medical’s clinical team had put together a top-notch Recovery and Reconditioning Program for those compromised by a variety of acute and chronic conditions, such as after-effects of the flu and cardiovascular disease. Developed in partnership with leading physicians, including physiatrists and infectious disease specialists, the program focuses on identifying key areas of deconditioning and weakness in patients. Select Medical’s licensed physical and occupational therapist are specially trained in the program, with each clinician having access to the most up-to-date COVID-19 information, best practices and safety precautions.
Physical, occupational and speech therapy is critical in helping COVID-19 survivors get back to their lives and jobs. This virus can be extremely debilitating on its own, and even worse when combined with the effects of limited mobility during hospitalizations, prolonged mechanical ventilation or additional medical complications. As physical rehabilitation professionals, we are uniquely qualified to work with these patients to:
- Increase mobility, balance and stability
- Decrease pain, soreness and general fatigue
- Improve range of motion and breathing capability
- Address cognitive impairments, dizziness and weakness
- Ensure a safe recovery to activities of daily living
Our clinical team believes firmly in safety first and have put out guidelines for monitoring patients to ensure we are exercising them hard enough to make progress, but not overstress their systems. We are also educating these survivors on how to monitor themselves during home exercises or simple household activities like cleaning and chores.
While this global pandemic has had a lot of challenges and negative aspects, when I really step back and look at the whole picture I am impressed with how we positioned ourselves. Every day, we are committed to putting patients first, keeping patients and clinicians safe and assisting those who have survived COVID-19 back to their highest quality of life. That’s something to be proud of, and we look forward to helping more and more heal through our Recovery and Reconditioning Program.
To learn more about our program or to schedule an appointment today, please click here.
By: Erica R. Noel, P.T., MSPT. Erica is a physical therapist with Banner Physical Therapy in Phoenix, AZ. Banner and Select Physical Therapy are part of the Select Medical Outpatient Division family of brands.
Posted on 10/2/2020
It's official, our favorite month of the year is here: National Physical Therapy Month. Please join us as we celebrate our amazing team members and the power of physical therapy throughout October. #NPTM2020 #ChoosePT #ThePowerOfPhysicalTherapy
Posted on 6/7/2018 by Annette Monaccio, O.T., CHT
Hand Therapy Week is held during the first full week of June and hosted by the American Society of Hand Therapists. Certified hand therapists are dedicated to helping patients with hand and arm injuries and conditions that may be affecting their daily life.
As a certified hand therapist, I’ve had the privilege to meet many people with a wide range of injuries. Watching an individual perform a task or activity that we often take for granted is a proud and exciting moment for both a patient and therapist after an injury.
I met Lexi, a shy and nervous young girl, who had been through a traumatic experience and hospitalization after a bon fire accident left her with severe burns over most of her body. She had spent several months at a local hospital in the intensive care burn unit. Upon beginning treatment, I knew that I needed to address and acknowledge her injuries, expectations of participation in therapy, boundaries for success and goals for recovery and independence.
Lexi had many burns on her face, arms, hands, torso, legs and back. There were many areas to address with her injuries, including:
Managing her wounds
Regaining mobility in her extremities
Performing basic activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing and returning to school
Processing the psychological impact of others reactions to her appearance
I knew there were many things that we had to address quickly to avoid the loss of motion of her arms, especially her hands which were severely burned and beginning to form contractures/scarring along the fingers. We developed custom splints, “orthoses” made to fit the individual. It required many attempts for success due to Lexi’s injuries, but the key to our success was listening to determine the best splint, proper fit, adjustment and fashion for a preteen. A few color adjustments of splinting materials, a little added “bling” and voila, it was done and Lexi began wearing her orthotic!
The management of her wounds – cleaning, dressing, monitoring and education – were our first steps of trust and understanding, since this was one of the most difficult aspects of intervention. The next process of touching, moving and passively stretching her hands and fingers were the true challenge. Building trust and establishing goals were vital. We were on our way as a team to improve her ability to bend a finger, make a fist and then use her hands to accomplish daily tasks. There was blood, sweat and tears during many sessions, but, most importantly, there was a lot of laughter, too.
LexiLexi’s parents were dedicated to helping her in the center and at home for carryover of the program. As I watched her mom tie her shoes and write out some of the exercises we were reviewing one day, I asked Lexi why she wasn’t doing this on her own. She said, “I can’t do it myself.” This began the educational component with Lexi and her mom of why it was important to allow Lexi some reasonable time to attempt to gain her independence to complete daily tasks on her own. Yes, it was quicker and easier for someone to do this, but what would happen the first day back to school? Within two sessions, Lexi was independently putting on her shoes, tying them and had her first sense of independence since the accident.
Her laughter and smile were infectious with each new success. Next, Lexi was writing with adapting pens and pencils and back to writing poetry. Putting on her arm and leg compression garments and gloves was a tug of war match and she won each time. Again, another success. There were challenges of zipping a backpack, carrying books and fatigue following walks through the hallways in school, but Lexi overcame them all.
We initiated more challenges with fine motor skills with the purchase of a Barbie head and working on braiding hair. As a preteen, this was a must for Lexi. She now started braiding and had taken the focus of the hypersensitivity of her burns away to a new focus of allowing herself to touch different textures, which previously prevented her from using her hands for any activities. With each new challenge came a new set of frustrations, successes and, ultimately, independence.
Due to the extent of her burns, Lexi has been through several follow-up surgeries. She has returned each time to the center and hand therapy treatment with a new set of goals and motivation to quickly return to her routine. Step-by-step she continued to accomplish her goals, becoming independent with all activities. She now has excellent mobility of her arms, hands and legs.
Lexi has matured into a teen. She drives, attended prom, participates in track and other sports at school and has become a teen counselor at the burn camp she has attended each summer since her accident. I observed Lexi go from a quiet, scared child to an energetic and expressive young lady. She has taught me about determination, hard work and maintaining a positive attitude. She is an inspiration. I was not only the therapist, but the student learning each day from her.
By: Annette Monaccio, O.T., CHT. Annette is an occupational and certified hand therapist with Banner Physical Therapy in Arizona. She has treatment expertise in hand/upper extremity conditions and injuries, pelvic floor health and cancer rehabilitation.
Banner Physical Therapy, Select Physical Therapy and NovaCare Rehabilitation are part of the Select Medical Outpatient Division family of brands.
Posted on 4/3/2017 by Cornelia von Lersner Benson, O.T., CHT
Join NovaCare Rehabilitation, Select Physical Therapy and our team of dedicated occupational therapists as we celebrate Occupational Therapy Month (OTM)! OTM is hosted by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) each April to recognize how occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants help transform society by restoring and improving function in people's lives.
Occupational therapy is celebrating its anniversary! The National Society for the Promotion of Occupational Therapy (now AOTA) was established in 1917, marking 100 years of the profession and evidence-based practice. With more than 200,000 occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants helping individuals across the lifespan live life to its fullest, this dedicated group of professionals focuses on treatment to help develop, recover and maintain the daily skills of patients.
Occupational therapists offer a unique approach to physical rehabilitation. The focus isn’t just someone’s motion or strength, but how it is used in their life, such as a healthy return to work, getting back to sports or hobbies or helping to braid a child’s hair before school. Occupational therapists also have specialty training in orthoses fabrication and emotional, thinking and reasoning factors that affect physical health and function. It is a service that, side-by-side with physical therapy, can offer a return to health and function in an all-inclusive and progressive way.
This service offering, however, all began for NovaCare Rehabilitation in 1990, prior to joining the Select Medical family, within our Southern New Jersey community when I was hired by our then company president to develop an occupational therapy program. I was hired as the first occupational therapist for the company, likely as an informal pilot study to determine a consumer’s benefit of receiving occupational therapy and its contribution as a service and unique offering for our organization. As we knew it would, occupational therapy was a hit! Occupational therapy allows patients to achieve independence and participate in tasks they want and need to accomplish through therapeutic interventions following trauma or disability. Our local success meant that the occupational therapy service offering quickly grew, adding additional staff members in New Jersey and then Philadelphia, Maryland and Minnesota.
Today, occupational therapy is a national service for NovaCare Rehabilitation, Select Physical Therapy and other brands within the Select Medical Outpatient Division family. We employ more than 480 occupational therapists across the country. We continue to treat patients on a daily basis as well as provide education and mentoring to support new occupational therapy graduates who desire to achieve his/her certification in hand therapy. We help to supervise all levels of occupational therapy students, ongoing development for staff and continued service expansion to meet the needs of our community at large.
At NovaCare Rehabilitation and Select Physical Therapy, our occupational therapists are everyday heroes and know that each patient is unique and requires an individualized approach to care. Our team finds the right solution for each patient to reach goals and return to function and the things they enjoy doing as soon as possible.
I am proud to work for a company that holds occupational therapy in such high regard and encourages and supports therapists in their growth, their unique contributions and their skills to improve the lives of our patients. This comes as a result of having a company creed that is dedicated to providing an exceptional patient experience in a compassionate environment. It all fits! Happy OTM, everyone!
Cornelia von Lersner Benson By: Cornelia von Lersner Benson, O.T., CHT. Cornelia serves as NovaCare Rehabilitation’s hand and occupational therapy director for the Southern New Jersey community. NovaCare in New Jersey proudly employs 46 occupational and hand therapists within 27 offices, including those who provide in-home care and services within physician offices.