Recently RVNAhealth had a chance to discuss Occupational Therapy with Wendy Mutter, Marketing Director and Admissions Liaison from Lutheran Home of Southbury. Wendy hosts a regular series called Lutheran Home Live, profiled on Southbury.com, aiming to educate the Southbury public on available health and aging services. Danielle Taibi MOTR/L, CDP (below, left), a licensed Occupational Therapist since 2013 and Home Health Aide Supervisor for RVNAhealth StayWELL Services, had a chance to talk about RVNAhealth services and cover the basics of Occupational Therapy and its approach.
Danielle began by explaining the difference between Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy – a topic very often misunderstood. Occupational Therapy often focuses on addressing an injury or illness that has disrupted a person’s normal activities of daily life – activities as basic as eating, bathing, dressing, for example – and then helping that person regain function. Typically, a physical therapist and an occupational therapist will have the same goals for a patient’s recovery, but their approach and techniques will differ. Occupational Therapy focuses less on bio-mechanical exercise — typical of physical therapy — and more on common meaningful activities and fine motor skills to help one regain their optimal function. Danielle provided the example of using laundry folding as a functional Occupational Therapy technique to work on a person’s range of motion improvement.
Falls prevention was another topic discussed and of frequent importance to Occupational Therapists working in the home. More than 1 in 4 older adults fall every year and 60% of these falls happen in the home. When an Occupational Therapist enters a home to work on mobility issues, falls prevention is a priority and can be addressed through a home assessment. An Occupational Therapist can identify risks in the home and make recommendations, often starting with the removal or securing of area rugs and electrical wires and assessing the bathroom for possible assistance equipment needs or grab bars. While often simple recommendations, changes such as these can make a significant difference to remaining safe in one’s home.
RVNAhealth offers Occupational Therapy services both in the home and at our outpatient Rehabilitation & Wellness Center, located in Ridgefield. Please visit our website to learn more about RVNAhealth’s Occupational Therapy services and team. And for more information specific to falls prevention, please see RVNAhealth’s recent Falls Prevention webinar.
Thank you to Wendy Mutter of the Lutheran Home of Southbury for profiling Occupational Therapy and RVNAhealth. And thank you to On the Mend Medical Supplies & Equipment for hosting the interview in their wonderful store in Southbury. You can view the full video interview here.
Historically, RVNAhealth has served a predominately ‘mature’ crowd, representative of many of those in need of visiting nursing and rehabilitation for illness and injury. But over the decades, as we all began to realize that prevention is as important as treatment, RVNAhealth has added numerous services and programs appropriate for all ages — well child physicals and immunizations, flu shots, travel health, and Nurse-Family Partnership to name a few.
So now it’s not uncommon to see youthful faces on premises and at our clinics and programs. And it’s still always a delight. Recently, we spied Ridgefield High School senior, Samantha (Sammi) McLemore in the RVNAhealth Rehabilitation & Wellness Center keeping pace on the treadmill.
Sammi, who has been running for four years, was at RVNAhealth for a running assessment with Kate Campbell, DPT, hoping to get some insight into a recurring injury that wasn’t going away. “I had no idea what I was doing wrong,” she explains, “and how I could strengthen my weaknesses to avoid future injury.” Sammi came to RVNAhealth to get to the root of the problem.
“I learned which muscle was the cause of my pain and how to address my problem. The exercises and personal plan I received will set me on a path to recovery and injury-free running!,” she says. “Also, it was really helpful to go over the exercises in person and see the pictures that illustrated how my form was hurting rather than helping my running.”
“It’s always inspiring to work with athletes, but runners have a special sensibility,” says physical therapist Kate Campbell, whose focus is on comprehensive sports injury therapy and prevention education and programming. “They are extremely motivated to address an injury or issue, so they can return to full form. Not running for an extended length of time, is not an appealing option for them.”
But a runner needn’t wait for an injury to get a running assessment. “I would completely recommend going for an analysis even if you aren’t injured,” say Sammi, “to see what you can do to prevent future injuries and fix any problems!”
The flip of a light switch may have determined Kate Campbell’s career trajectory.
At sixteen, Campbell was a competitive gymnast and was severely injured, requiring physical therapy, a vocation she considered at the discouragement of many because of the competition and excessive paperwork. She recalls sitting with an ice pack on her knee watching physical therapists in matching polo shirts helping patients on various exercise machines when an older gentleman flipping a nearby light switch caught her eye.
Up, on; down, off. Up, on; down, off. Up, on; down, off.
Campbell realized that the man was re-learning the most basic task so he could independently return to life as he once knew it. Something that many of us take for granted, turning a light on or off, was the focus of his intense effort that day; Campbell was hooked. “Watching him flipping that switch up and down…it was like my own switch went on. I knew I wanted to spend my life helping people just like him.”
And help them, she does.
Kate Campbell is a physical therapist with RVNAhealth focusing on comprehensive sports injury therapy and prevention education and programming where she applies a comprehensive approach to healing. A triathlete and accomplished life-long athlete, Campbell believes fervently in injury-prevention education which she does regularly at the Golf Performance Center in Ridgefield (GPC), an RVNAhealth partner in wellness. More recently, she began offering running evaluations to assess individual strength, mechanics, flexibility and foot and shoe analysis for runners of all experience levels. “Avoiding injury isn’t about luck,” Campbell says, “it’s about understanding how injuries happen.”
When they do, Campbell takes a thorough approach designed to prevent patient hospitalization and restore activity as soon as safely possible with full range of motion restoration. Functional therapy, Campbell calls it, addresses all aspects of recovery including the secondary systems that are affected. “When developing a treatment plan,” Campbell says, “I watch how a patient moves in entirety to identify comprehensive areas of concern. It’s important to consider the systemic connections when approaching healing. If someone has spinal surgery, physical therapy must consider how the spine interacts with other parts of the body to ensure it’s all supported. Ultimately, I want to get people back to doing what they love to do.” Because Campbell supports all facets of the RVNAhealth portfolio, she works with patients of all ages—from the youngest golf students at Golf Performance Center to senior hospice patients grappling with weaknesses impacting their quality of life.
Ultimately, the goal is for Campbell to open her own practice under the RVNAhealth umbrella to serve a different clientele. “I want to bring my expertise to athletes who are hungry for high quality care, in a specialized and sophisticated environment married with all of the resources and support that RVNAhealth can give,” Campbell says.
Her tenured physical therapy career has not been without obstacles, all of which Campbell overcame to become one of only five women in Connecticut board-certified by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) in Sports Physical Therapy. College advisors discouraged her focus because of saturation in the profession, but she was not dissuaded. “I figured if other students were getting the same advice and changed paths then I would be one of the few graduating with the degree and by the time I was twenty-three, I had earned my Doctorate.”
The journey has been worth it. Of many noteworthy patients, one Ridgefield resident is particularly memorable. The geriatric patient was never going to walk normally again due to a rare kidney disease causing chronic inflammation. The woman loved walking for exercise and when her grandson got engaged, she decided she wanted to walk down the aisle as a surprise to the family. Campbell even secretly measured the length of the aisle to make sure they practiced it. “We got the best video of her standing up from her wheelchair and walking down the aisle with her rollator [a mobility aid on wheels] and her grandson. Those proud moments remind me why I do what I do.”