A Tip O’ The Hat to Rehab Professionals

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I just learned that we are currently in National Rehabilitation Awareness Week. So, please consider this a tip o’ the hat to all those physical therapists, occupational therapists, voc rehab people, social workers and every other professional who helps people like me get back on their feet! And, a little story…

When I present lectures for hospitals, almost always, I’ll have someone approach who says something like this:

“Marcus, you’ve talked a lot about your nurses and doctors, but what about your physical and occupational therapists?”

First, I was incredibly injured. So much so that I spent the first month of hospitalization too injured to move out of bed. There may have been some physical and/or occupational therapy done during that first horrific month, but I don’t remember it.

After that first month, a PT started helping me learn to use a walker, transfer from the hospital bed to a chair, toilet or to start to use my legs again, atrophied, though they were. I very much remember a few trips up and down the halls of the 7400 floor of Barnes Hospital. Taking that first step out of my room and into the hall gave me such a rush of…well, freedom. It was the first sign that I would, someday, be able to walk upright and on my own…and that I wouldn’t be trapped in that room forever.

Let’s talk rehab. Rehab comes in so, so many different forms. One of the first really positive pieces of news I received after learning my sight was permanently gone came from a hospital social worker, Cindy. She simply said, “Marcus, if there’s anything good about this situation, it’s that you’re a Missouri resident. We have awesome rehab services for the blind here in Missouri.” And, she was so, so right.

Over the next several years, I would meet and interact with a great many rehab specialists. Not just the PTs and OTs and social workers, but the case managers, living skills teachers, adaptive software educators, orientation and mobility specialists, mental health counselors and a slew of other folks who got me back to where I wanted to be.

Yes, nurses saved my life, doctors fixed my broken body, but it was those in the rehab community who gave me the skills and resources to get where I am today. So, a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone involved, not just in my recovery, but across the entire field of rehab!

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