When Anne first meets her patients, she asks them to share the things they enjoy with family and friends. "What things do you do to relax? What are your hobbies? What brings you pleasure? Sometimes patients don't believe they can go back to those things, considering where they are now. But we start small and build large."
"There's more to life to getting out of bed, getting dressed, and feeding yourself," Anne explained. "We inspire people to be active and engaged again."
"I always try to bridge the gap between clinic therapy and the patient's personal community. What's it like to go back to a baseball game after a stroke? What's it like to take a train when you're in a wheelchair? What will it be like to go camping?"
"We teach them to become advocates for themselves, scout out locations in advance, and overcome any physical obstacles. We want them to realize that people do want them there. And that there are always options for getting there safely and comfortably."
Recreational therapy often means that Anne shares in her patients' adventures. She's gone bowling, golfing, swimming, sailing and fishing with patients. She's even challenged them to games of darts and pool. "We practice the activity in the rehab environment, but there's only so much you can simulate in a clinic. When the patient is ready, we go out and participate in the real world. Our goal is to get people past the fear, insecurity, and self-consciousness they could experience when they're returning to the things they love."
"My position allows such great flexibility to deliver patient-centered care," Anne explained. "One of our patients recently installed an in-ground pool, and wasn't sure what exercises they could do at home. They invited me into their home for a therapy session. He was so wiped out afterwards. But at the same time, he was thrilled that I was able to see him at home. And it was such an honor for me to be part of his experience."
Outpatient therapy offers combined services not available at many of our competitors. "We really tie it all together at one place," shared Anne. "We ensure consistency between physical, recreational, occupational and speech therapies. We meet weekly to plot the course for each patient, and discuss ways we can support each other's methods. Patients really understand that everyone is working for them. They really respond to this approach, and their family appreciates it. They tell us all the time."
"I love being there for breakthroughs, when patients realize they can do what they didn't think they could ever do again," Anne shared. "My greatest reward is hearing about people continuing these breakthroughs in their lives after therapy."
"It's the downhill ski instructor who is back to skiing again. It's receiving a photo of my patient who went kayaking again. It's hearing about patients being able to dance at their grandchild's wedding. It's the tap dancers and musicians who came to us as patients, but return to perform at our annual celebrations. One of our patients just enjoyed a Caribbean cruise with his family, where he was able to swim with stingrays, dive with dolphins, and go parasailing with his son. We build a network that stays in touch long after outpatient therapy has ended. And it's so exciting to hear how people are doing."
Anne offers this advice for patients starting their recovery journey. "People can have such high expectations, and it may take much longer than they expect or want. But healing can't be scheduled. It's both gradual and drastic. And it's hard to see yourself perform at a lower level when you remember where you used to be. But we help people accept this change in their lives, and find new things that will bring them pride, confidence and happiness."