August 13, 2019 – Today I was hit the gym – the OT/PT gym that is – in the Nelson Pavilion with the team from inpatient developmental services. This team of 35 occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech language pathologists works with patients who have been admitted to the hospital.
After a round of introductions, I was informed that I would be playing the part of a rehab patient. In this scenario, I was a 6’4”, 299 pound 15 year old. I had suffered serious injuries in skateboarding accident, including a brain injury that left me non-verbal with double vision and tibia and fibia fractures on my left side.
My therapies began with an eyepatch for my glasses in order to help with the double-vision. Then, because I was non-verbal, I used a photo board to communicate by pointing at the appropriate photos and phrases. That was the easy part! Next, I was placed on my back, strapped into a sling, hoisted on a patient lift, and then loaded onto a tilt table, which, among other things, is used to find the cause of unexplained episodes of fainting.
While I was at a 90 degree angle, I tested my upper body strength with a Zipper Zoom Ball. Two people hold plastic handles connected by a rope and send a hard plastic zipper ball zooming back and forth. I was rewarded with some fruit juice – but then learned the thickened juice was really just a way to test my swallowing function.
The therapies continued with an exercise in which I had to tie a shoelace knot one-handed with my non-dominant hand. It took some focus but I’m proud to say I was able to do it. Finally the therapies were over and I was presented with my own memory book. This is similar to what real patients are given on their first day of rehab. The binder includes the patient’s personalized rehab schedule, calendars, inpatient fun facts and photos of the team.
What I got to do today was all in fun, but with real patients, it takes hard work – both for the patient and the therapist. I could tell immediately that this team is a fun and collaborative group – and it’s that positive spirit that is vital to putting patients and families at ease. Keep up the great work!