Much as a dented car does not get fixed by parking it on the side of the road, nor does a body hindered by injury or pain get healed without attention. Injuries and pain require evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment. Lucky for us, the State of Connecticut offers a healthcare benefit that simplifies the process of getting treated. It’s called Direct Access and it’s a benefit worth knowing about.
Direct Access is a statewide program that eliminates the need for a primary care physician referral prior to seeing a Rehabilitation Therapist. The streamlined process — which allows up to six visits with an RVNAhealth physical therapist at the RVNAhealth Rehabilitation & Wellness Center without a physician referral — is both cost-effective and allows individuals to enjoy swifter diagnosis and relief. In other words, it helps you get better faster.
This little-known benefit began in Connecticut in 2006 to provide patients more immediate diagnosis and relief. “Direct Access is an expedited way to get to the root cause and treat, rather than just self-diagnose — or ignore — both of which can prolong the issue but are tempting when the process of getting to a therapist is belabored,” says Gigi Weiss, MSPT, RVNAhealth Director of Rehabilitation Therapies. “Ultimately, Direct Access allows you to get in quickly to increase stability, relieve discomfort, and prevent worsening,”
Weiss encourages those with intermittent pain, mild injury, mobility limitations, or other chronic conditions to leverage the Direct Access program not just for minimization of discomfort but for proper diagnosis and treatment. “Often patients self-treat without success because symptoms are not always representative of the core issue,” says Weiss. “For example, neck issues can present as wrist pain so tending to the wrist won’t address the root cause and won’t provide much relief, especially long term. In many cases, the six visits granted through Direct Access get an individual well on their way to healing.”
Direct access can also benefit individuals with lingering difficulties from a health episode, like swallowing, fine motor skills, or communication. In these cases, Direct Access provides a fast track to restorative visits with an appropriate clinician.
At RVNAhealth, the rehabilitation team also collaborates with insurance providers and primary care physicians to coordinate coverage and treatment so patients can focus on wellness. For more information or to schedule a Direct Access assessment, visit RVNAhealth.org/Rehab or call (203) 438-7862.
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.