We are the therapists
We are physical, occupational and speech therapists. We have worked on the rehabilitation of stroke and brain injury survivors (not victims!) since the 1800s. Most have a least a master’s degree and many now have clinical doctorates. The gray-haired ones (like your author) have a four year BS degree, but we have a lot of experience (20+ years).
Our educational background includes things like kinesiology, cognitive rehabilitation, developmental sequelae in addition to courses in psychology, anatomy (a complete cadaver dissection for me…amazing…I got a “C” and was very happy about that), sociology, chemistry, and physics. We are trained to provide standardized assessments for sensory processing, developmental skills visual-motor integration and many more. We recognize the importance of client-centered treatment. We do not use protocols, but instead, we will talk about our “toolbox”, which gives us many ways to attempt to address a deficit.
We are very creative, mulling together several paradigms and perspectives to get the best result for the patient in front of use. We are very good at activity analysis allowing us to come up with creative activities to help patients get better. We know that nothing fixes everything, but that something may help someone. We do not often say “always” because every patient is different. We embrace this difference.
We are our patient’s advocates. We tell them the truth and they trust us because we do. We do not compromise on this. Our patients are people first and never described as a diagnosis. We help them decide on which assistive device to help them walk and which doctor will give them the best eye exam. We recognize that each patient has a unique context so his treatment must match his context in order to be engaging and effective.
Our patients need you…we need you…
Like many medical professionals, the time we spent learning about the visual system in school was lacking. We recognize vision as an important part of our patient’s recovery but accurate information has been hard to find. We need you to share your knowledge. We do not need marketing presentations (but we do love lunch!). We need clinical skills. We need to know how to recognize visual problems through observation and screening. We need to learn your language (OU, OD, OS…whats that??) and look forward to teaching you, our language (mod(A) to complete UE dressing, antalgic gait, dysarthric speech). When you share your knowledge with us, you will be rewarded with more appropriate referrals.
Accessibility is a big obstacle. There simply are not enough NORA-trained doctors to help with the volume of patients we see with stroke, TBI and concussion making sharing your knowledge with us all the more important. Financial accessibility is also a problem as many of our patients cannot afford out-of-pocket expenses at this very burdensome time.
We are going to be a very powerful team helping our patients to get results in new creative ways. Both professions will grow in new directions and we will get better outcomes for all of our patients.