April Occupational Therapy Month April is Occupational Therapy Month. In last week's paper, facts about occupational therapy were presented. In the upcoming weeks we have the pleasure of discussing how individuals in our community have utilized our local health care professionals for their care needs. Each case is different, however, they all share a common theme: achieving increased independence through the use of occupational therapy services. Sioux Valley Vermillion Hospital was given the opportunity to assist Pat Hansen following a spinal stroke. Pat was initially hospitalized at Sioux Valley Hospital in Sioux Falls. Pat chose the Sioux Valley Vermillion Swing Bed program for her rehabilitation program. When Pat was asked about why she chose to return to Vermillion for rehabilitation services, she replied, "By coming to Vermillion I could be near my family and friends and my job." When Pat entered the Sioux Valley Vermillion Swing Bed program her legs were totally paralyzed, making the simplest task of tying her shoes impossible. Pat's condition required a team approach; the specialists in Sioux Falls included her surgeon and neurologist, her local physician, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, pharmacy, durable medical technicians, as well as members of the community. Pat was no stranger to occupational therapy and physical therapy services as her past medical history of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis had required her to seek our services in the past. Pat has a long sense of community and feels fortunate to have been able to receive services locally. "We don't realize how important it is to have these services available locally until we need them," said Hansen. Pat's rehabilitation process consisted of increasing her strength and mobility skills as well as increasing her independence with daily living tasks. Physical therapy concentrated on increasing strength and range of motion of her legs to assist with walking and transfers. Occupational therapy focused on improving her abilities to carry out activities of daily living. Prior to hospitalization, Pat was independent with all tasks of daily living and now she was faced with depending on other people to complete simple tasks. Pat's goal was not only to walk again, but also to complete the tasks required of her once her legs got her there. Goals of occupational therapy consisted of increasing her ability to perform everyday tasks, such as getting dressed, getting in and out of the bath tub, getting around at work, cooking a meal, getting in and out of her car ? to name a few. Through the performance of daily living tasks, learning new techniques, as well as education and use of adaptive equipment, Pat began to increase her strength and endurance as well as complete daily living tasks with increased independence. Many of these goals could not be met in the hospital setting alone, therefore, a comprehensive home and work site evaluation was performed to ensure her independence in her own environment. Many of the recommendations of adaptive equipment in the home and work environment could not be ordered from a catalog, rather they needed to be designed and fabricated to meet Pat's needs and her environment. With the assistance of members of the community, the recommendations given by occupational therapy were brought to life. One such recommendation was a ramp to allow Pat to exit and enter her Expedition with the use of her wheelchair and a slide board. Utilizing the skills and experience of several individuals (occupational therapy, physical therapy, maintenence, and a local welder) a one-of-a-kind wheel chair ramp was constructed which allowed Pat to achieve a very important goal of transportation utilizing her own vehicle. Pat is home and back to work and continues to increase independence with daily living skills, however, she continues to make occasional visits to the Sioux Valley Vermillion Rehabilitation Department for advice regarding her condition. Pat feels very fortunate to have rehabilitation health care providers that know her history so close to home. "One of the biggest advantages of receiving rehabilitation services at our local hospital is that the same therapists are available to me when I run into unexpected problems at home or work," Pat said. To learn more about occupational therapy services at Sioux Valley Vermillion Medical Center, contact Lisa Dangler or Amy Hertz at (605) 624-2611, ext. 334. Remember to watch for upcoming articles in April issues of the Vermillion Plain Talk.