(Guest post by Michelle Wall, OTR, DOR)
As therapists, we tend to be goal-oriented. Our priorities include maintaining safety, providing efficient treatment, and achieving positive outcomes. Many times, the focus is on the destination (a return to function), not always the journey (the process to get there).
For many of our patients, everything about the rehabilitation process is new and overwhelming. Think about a patient that has been independent his entire life, until he finds himself admitted to the hospital and referred to subacute rehab. For the first time in his life, he is having trouble walking and caring for himself. It is now the job of his therapists to help him regain his independence and regain his sense of routine. So how do we motivate someone who has had their life turned upside-down by illness or injury? We put the “fun” in function!
Sometimes, it is about thinking outside the box. No “cookie-cutter” plan will work for every patient we see. Upon entering our rehab gym, you will see weights, machines, and other standard therapy equipment being utilized. However, you will also find music playing, dance parties, and discussions about last night’s baseball game. We have a responsibility to our patients to facilitate safety and function, but who says we can’t all have fun while doing it?
Our commitment to individualized treatment plans helps to encourage our patients and remind them that their recovery is a priority. It is the personal touches that can put a smile on someone’s face and prove what we already know: therapy is so much more than just a job, it’s a calling.