"Occupational therapy is centered entirely on the patient," Brenda explained. "We set goals around what's most meaningful for them â€“ but we just guide the goals. The patients drive them."
The goal of occupational therapy is to assist patients resume the basic activities of daily living: getting dressed, taking a bath, and taking care of themselves at home. "We lead people through activities that improve their strength, balance, and sequence," said Brenda. "We ask how their health has affected their abilities, and decide if we can recover their lost functions or compensate for them in a new way. We also help them incorporate the use of their affected side."
"Getting to know each individual patient is so rewarding. We learn about their sleeping habits, their family relationships, their dreams, and their fears."
"We are seeing a much younger population nowadays, with a new set of needs and goals," Brenda explained. "Our patients want to ride their motorcycle again. They want to go rafting or tubing. They want to walk their daughter down the aisle at her wedding. They have big things ahead of them."
"We're seeing new parents with young children. How do you change a diaper or carry a baby after a stroke? How do you care for a pet? Some of our patients are unable to return to a full-time job, and we guide them towards other meaningful activities, such as volunteering. Younger people have so much energy, and want to go back to living active, busy lives â€“ which challenges us to be more innovative than ever before."
"When I shared that I was being interviewed for this story, a patient asked me to share this advice: 'Remember that your loved ones have also suffered a life change. They are also feeling loss.' This is so true. Caregivers do need to take care of themselves, and lean heavily on the support systems available to them. Family, church, therapists, and the Aurora caregiver community are all here for them. People are more than just patients to us. They become part of our family."
Brenda reflected on her time with Steve Hofmann. "Each day, Steve came in and looked at me, ready to take on the new challenge. He was always ready to work. And work. And work and work and work. And Tracy was amazing. Her encouragement was relentless."
"Everything can seem so devastating at first," shared Brenda. "But you must believe that things will change. Things will get better if you believe they can."