Tag Archives: Outpatient

Neuro Nerds

As I’m sure many of you know, I received the majority of my therapy since returning home to Charleston, SC at Roper St. Francis’ Downtown location. Roper St. Francis’ outpatient therapy became my home away from home after going there for physical and occupational therapy four days a week for almost two full years. My parents and I then decided it was time to get some new/fresh eyes on my recovery process.

My Shepherd Center therapists brought this strategy to light for the three of us after seeing them use this tactic themselves. I had my regular Occupational, Physical, Speech and Recreational Therapists team, but would periodically have sessions with different rotating registered therapist, or even Physical and Occupational Therapy Assistants, in order to allow a fresh set of eyes to view my weaknesses/strengths. This showed great results on all ends of the spectrum!

With that being said, after going to Roper St. Francis for so long, 12/13-10/15, we decided it’d be best to ask the MUSC Physical Therapy Neuro Professor, Dr. Sara Kraft, what local therapy gym she thought had the best neuro focus.MUSC logo She told us that MUSC had recently reopened their gym in Mt. Pleasant with the plans of having all disciplines included to focus specifically on neurological issues. After hearing that one of Dr. Kraft’s former PT students, Eric Monsch, who had worked at Vanderbilt Stallworth in their Neuro inpatient Rehab department in Nashville, TN, was there I switched gyms to MUSC Mt. Pleasant right away. I had my first appointment with him on 10/21/15. After seeing his neuro nerd knowledge in-person I was very happy that we decided to get some new eyes on my recovery process! Although, there was an initial hiccup in the
move because they hadn’t yet acquired a neuro Occupational Therapist. The MUSC Rehab Manager, Ann Benton, was quick to inform us that they were going to transfer one of their own OTs out of their inpatient department very soon.

After about a month and a half of seeing Eric, MUSC had brought an OT neuro nerd, Vicky Whalen, over to the outpatient side of things. I had my first session with her on 12/1/15 and realized that she’s REALLY ON TOP of the neuro rehab game. So much so that it wasn’t till after the first two months of seeing her that we repeated something we had done together. Even more surprisingly, she had so many tricks up her sleeve that we did exercises that I had never done with any of my other OTs in the full 2.75 years I had been in therapy. This came as a big surprise to me because I had been saying, jokingly of course, that I could basically become any discipline therapists I’d wish to become because of the amount time that I’ve spent observing all of them. So, thanks for proving me wrong Vicky, thanks a lot. I’m kidding but that is really how much neuro nerd knowledge she has…

LSVT BIG LogoEric and Vicky made an awesome new set of eyes. Then, come mid-January, Eric has some unfortunate-news that he was going to change departments at MUSC and use his neuro skills in the MUSC Research Department. When he left at the beginning of February I had PT with Laurie Woods, who specializes in LSVT Big. It was once again GREAT to have yet another set of eyes on my recovery process. Especially from a therapist that specializes in a very particular neuro strategy for Parkinson disease, at that.

I only saw Laurie for just about a month because Mrs. Benton hired the first neuro nerd I had met when starting therapy in Charleston, Katherine Bennett! Katherine was my initial Physical Therapist when starting at Roper St. Francis, but she then had her first baby on March 4th, 2015. After her three month maternity leave was over she tried to get a part-time position at Roper, but they unfortunately did not have such a position open. Seeing her in a therapy environment again feels like a meant to be kind of scenario. I say this because after her not seeing me for almost a full year she has a fresh set eyes on my recovery, yet she is familiar with my typical patterns.

Katherine and me walker

Walking into MUSC therapy on my walker.

MUSC’s neuro gym has been a great choice overall, but they’ve only been able to see me two days a week from the get go. At first this was a little discouraging to my recovery process. That negativity ended up having a reverse effect and ended up showing me two perks of less therapy. The first being that it entices me to do my at home exercise program on my floor exercise mat, at the very least, two days a week. I’m even able to do my exercises on the floor when I’m by myself and even GET UP OFF OF THE FLOOR BY MYSELF! …which I’m obviously really excited to say I’m able to do. The other part of my home exercise program is for me to use my walker while at home alone. At first this had me a little worrisome, but now I’m walking and standing for 3 hours of the day while home alone. The second perk I’ve seen with less therapy is the fact that I’m able to focus on my love for design much more than I have been able to since my accident!

Home Alone

Since I posted that photo of my friends and me from two years ago at the beginning of this month I’ve felt that I should update the blog with an actual entry as opposed to just a picture, so here we go…

I’ve very fortunately progressed to the point where I can stay at home alone comfortably & safely now, and have been doing so since the end of May! Before I felt comfortable doing so I looked into the prices of Life Alert and Lifeline. After getting quotes from both of those providers I began brainstorming alternatives. And BAM I noticed that the Apple watch was available for preorder! The Pops and I went to the Apple Store to preview the watch before preordering one. I found that they have a band that is always attached in a circle form and loosens up by a magnet which was a great option for me seeing as I’m hemiplegic and don’t have full range of motion in my left arm, the wrist that I’ve always worn a watch on. So far I haven’t fallen while at home alone (or even at all, knock on wood), but always having a way to call someone for help if need be gives me a sense of ease. Plus, the Apple Watch has already paid its self off if you compare the price of the watch to Life Alert or Lifeline’s setup and monthly charges.

Mirror | mirror is the recent logo I've developed for a client.

Mirror | mirror is a recent logo I’ve developed for a client.

There are a few downsides to being home alone though, the first being that my buddy from thirdgrade, Michael Onorato, is no longer with me during the week to hang out with and go do different things. As well, without him at home with me I can only do speech and arm exercises. As to be expected, I initially didn’t feel too comfortable doing standing exercises with no one at home to spot me, watch or not even watch me at all. Recently though, I have gained much more confidence in standing alone while doing household activities such as brushing my teeth, shavingmy face or empting the dishwasher for my mom. I have also been transferring from my wheelchair to one of our living room’s wingback chairs by myself to work on my computer for client work…or writing my blog update. I have been very grateful for the fact that I have fully retained all of the design disciplines, as well as the depths of the programs I learned while at Full Sail University.

Something I’m not too grateful for is the blasted heat that Charleston experiences in the summer time. I say this because when it was cooler outside I would do my walking exercise with no assistive device around a neighborhood pond with my dad there spotting me, but 90+ degree weather will really get to me. Since my accident my internal body temperature will escalate much more, kind of like I’m a cold-blooded reptile. The good thing is though that today is the Fall Solstice, so we can only hope that means that temperatures will go down for walking’s sake.

My first nuero PT while in SC with her new babyand her husband after walk in and out of church.

My first neuro SC PT and me with her family.

Although I haven’t been walking with no device, except around our house a little, I have been using my single pole offset cane to walk in and out of church, restaurants and a variety of other establishments. The cool part is that I’ve seen my gait pattern’s pacing increasing by minutes at a time, slowly but surely, by using a free app that tracks the position of your phone via GPS and tells you exactly how far you’ve gone in how much time. The reason I feel it necessary for me to use my cane while in throngs of people is that I feel intimidated and scared that someone might bump into me, or something of the sort, and the cane gives me that little bit of security to move forth.

 

Come next week, I’ll be helping out in another one of Dr. Sara Kraft’s neuro classes with different PT students. She’s also told me about a video that she would like me to be the neuro patient in to help educate every discipline of therapy learning about Neuro Rehabilitation. I will be sure to post about that experience in my next post. While on the topic of videos, I will commit to finish editing the video from the one hour talk I gave to Dr. Kraft’s 2nd year neuro class’s PT students in April before the end of the year and share it on here!

image

Oh, How the Tides Have Turned…

The photos featured are one of my brothers and me recreating a photo from almost two years ago. He and his wife were visiting Charleston for the first time in a pretty long while and his wife showed me the first picture at dinner their first night in town earlier this week. That’s when the idea struck me “We have to change places now”!
Before & After

Home Again Home Again

One of the first things we did when we returned home to Mt. Pleasant, SC was to interview at-home caregiver businesses to take me to therapy whenever I would have it and provide in-home care. We were not having much success in finding the ideal situation, but, then my buddy Michael Onorato stepped up to the plate. Michael agreed he would take me to therapy everyday and hang out with me in my off time. I was, and still am, very appreciative that my elementary school buddy would do such an awesome thing for me! My parents and I initially went to East Cooper Hospital on September 11, 2014 for a PT, OT and Speech Therapy eval, as recommended by Shepherd Center’s outpatient facility. After my PT and OT appointments we heard the unfortunate news that insurance was no longer going to cover Speech Therapy. After hearing that my heart dropped, but the East Cooper Speech Pathologist, Katie Edwards, was nice enough to give me a free eval while my dad contacted both our insurance case manager at the time and Shepherd’s Pathways. East Cooper’s PT therapist, Suzanne Rodgers, was also nice and told us that she didn’t think that East Cooper rehab would be the best therapy source for my TBI related injuries and specific therapy needs, so she referred us to MUSC and provided us with MUSC’s outpatient therapy’s number.

Walking on the elbow platform walker at MUSC.

Walking on the elbow platform walker at MUSC.

Once we got into therapy at MUSC I was registered with all three disciplines, which were once again covered by insurance, even Speech (thankfully). I started in PT learning how to scoot down a mat, which doubled as my bed, while sitting on the edge and walking on an elbow platform walker, focusing on lifting my left leg fully. In OT I would put a heated pad on my left shoulder’s pectoral muscle to help loosen it up before stretching it and trying to open sealed containers myself. For Speech Therapy I was mostly focusing on the letters my tongue was having troubles producing like ‘K’, ‘G’ and ‘CH’. Unfortunately, MUSC was unable to schedule therapies more than one or two times a week. With my injuries I needed to work as hard and often as I could to achieve the best outcome for my recovery. So one day while I was at MUSC my dad did some investigating and found Roper St. Francis Rehabilitation Hospital who said they could give me all three disciplines three days a week.

Katherine, Michael and me during a PT session

Katherine, Michael and me during a PT session.

I am now attending Roper St. Francis and have been since December 9, 2014 (almost a YEAR!!). My PT is a recent graduate from MUSC, Katherine Bennett, who is all about nuero-cases and has recently gotten her nuero-IFRAH certification. We have been working on everything from isolated muscle strengthening to walking with no support or assistance. I initially started PT for 1 hour 3 days a week, but am now doing 2 hours 4 days a week because Katherine saw my potential and enjoys working with me! My OTs, Tara Murphy and Lindsay Deane, are awesome as well. We are currently focusing on getting more range of motion out of my left arm and I’ve already learned how to put on all of my clothes myself. One of my OTs recommended I should get tendon release surgery on my left finger joints because they want to fist-up and we’ve already tried everything we can do to get them to relax, so I am having surgery to relax my fingers in a few weeks, December 3, 2014 (right fingers crossed). I was released from Speech Therapy at Roper around May 2014 because the therapist ran out of ideas to help me gain anymore speech intelligibility or to help my dysarthria. Since May I started with a few new Speech Pathologists at East Cooper Hospital: JoAnn Fischer, who previously worked with TBI cases in Baltimore, at the Kennedy Krieger Institute; Katie Edwards, the one who had been nice enough upon my return home to give me my initial speech eval; and Kaylen Alford, a recent graduate from App State with her degree in Speech Therapy. I just finished 6 weeks of LSVT (Lee Silverman Voice Therapy) to help get the volume of my voice up to a higher decibel in everyday conversation. And while doing my ‘ahh’s I got them up from 3 seconds while at Shepherd Center all the way up to 19.5 seconds with the help of East Cooper! So that’s my story so far. I will make sure to keep you all posted on big obstacles that I overcome and how my surgery goes on December 3rd!