On Your Health

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Spotlight on Rehabilitation Therapy

More than 2.5 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury each year, which can be the result of bruising, swelling or tearing of brain tissue that occurs after a concussion or blow to the head. Another 800,000 suffer from non-traumatic brain injury every year, caused internally by a stroke, aneurysm, tumor or meningitis. According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, more than 4,000 Oklahomans suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2012.

Sometimes, rest will lead to a full recovery, while other cases of brain injury require rehabilitation. A patient’s condition following a brain injury can vary widely depending on the cause and the affected area of the brain.

“We offer speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy services,” says Samantha Klepper, physical therapist and rehabilitation manager at INTEGRIS Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation. “We can treat many impairments that accompany a brain injury, such as limited balance, decreased strength and range of motion, swallow function, cognitive deficits, voice volume, speech clarity, inability to perform self-care functions like bathing or dressing and more." To see an amazing story of one man’s recovery from a traumatic brain injury, watch this video of Matt Grice, an Oklahoma City police officer and former UFC fighter who suffered a traumatic brain injury after he was rear-ended by a speeding car at 65 miles per hour.

But rehabilitation therapy treats more than just brain injuries. In a nutshell, it’s a rehabilitation method that uses exercise, massage and other treatments to increase mobility, strength and endurance following any kind of accident or injury. The goal of rehabilitation therapy is to help patients return to an optimal level of functioning and independence, whether that means returning to a sport or simply being able to do daily tasks like getting dressed and brushing teeth.

Although it’s perhaps the most widely known, physical therapy is just one piece of a patient’s rehabilitation process, which typically includes an entire team of rehabilitation specialists who create an individualized treatment plan tailored to a patient’s goals, with targeted therapy for each of his or her needs.

Physical Therapist Spotlight: Samantha Klepper

Klepper says her favorite part of her job is getting to know her patients and helping them reach their goals of recovery. Not only does she care about her patients, she is passionate about her work.

“I have absolutely fallen in love with treating the Parkinson's disease population,” Klepper says. “I attended a conference to learn about Parkinson Wellness Recovery techniques, and have the opportunity to work with patients and see improvements quickly. We started an exercise group for people with Parkinson’s disease in conjunction with the Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma that is going well.”

“Patient care is the best part of my job,” Klepper says. “One of my favorite patients recently passed away from impairments from Parkinson’s disease after a long battle. I had the opportunity to treat him for the past several years. I got to know his wife very well, and they seemed like family. We were able to help him stay independent and functional much longer than he would have had he not worked so hard in therapy.”

Individualized Treatment for Every Patient

With rehabilitation, it’s important that each treatment plan is targeted to address the individual need of the patient. In order to determine the proper team of specialists, Klepper meets with each patient before they begin rehabilitation.

“I get to know the person behind the diagnosis,” Klepper says about her patients. “I ask a lot of questions to find out who they are, what they enjoy, what their goals are, what difficulties they’re experiencing. Then, I perform tests and measures that are evidence-based to collect objective data. I look at all of the information to reach an assessment that guides my plan of care.”

INTEGRIS Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation provides a wide scope of patient care from the intensive care unit to acute care to inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation. Klepper explains, “If the patient is unable to live at home and get to an outpatient facility, then an inpatient setting may be best for the patient.”

When it comes to rehabilitation, having the right team in place is crucial to success. However, the patient’s motivation, attitude and family support system are just as important throughout the rehabilitation process.

“If a person is motivated, he will push himself further until his goals are met,” says Klepper. “Sometimes, patients can lose motivation based on their emotional state, and it becomes our job to remind them of their goals, show them how far they’ve come and paint the picture of what good rehabilitation can give them. This is why it is so important for us to get to know the person; we notice when motivation is low and the person needs additional encouragement.”

Innovative Rehabilitation Therapies

In addition to rehabilitation programs for people with brain injuries, Parkinson’s, and many more conditions, INTEGRIS Jim Thorpe also offers a variety of non-traditional therapies like music, art, horticulture, aquatic and pet therapy.

“The different kinds of therapies ensure we can reach a large number of people and offer something for everyone,” Klepper explains. “Someone may enjoy music or horticulture, and that’s just the trick that’s needed to spark motivation in them to encourage them to keep working toward their goals. Aquatic therapy offers a different way to perform exercises without the weight-bearing impact. It allows people to exercise who may not have been able to perform those exercises on land.”

INTEGRIS Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation offers a complete continuum of care, from an individually tailored outpatient program to acute inpatient rehabilitation. The goal of rehabilitation therapy, whether physical, occupational, speech or recreational, is to restore patients' quality of life by improving their function and independence.

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