Friday, September 15, 2017

My OT Story: By Anonymous

I started in physical therapy but when I moved to the United States my only option was to go to school for occupational therapy since OT was undergraduate program. My initial career plan was to finish OT school and then pursue physical therapy. But because I fell in love with our profession, I stayed with it! Occupational therapy is very unique and what OT does for the patients just made sense to me. There is a lot of room for creativity which is great. I love OT.

By: Anonymous

My OT Story: By Anonymous

With occupational therapy, the possibilities are endless. That is why I became an occupational therapist; because it allows my creativity to be shown but most importantly it helps my patients to get better.


My OT Story: By Shanpin Fanchiang

Occupational therapy in primary care is hot! With healthcare shifting from “fee-for-service” to “value-based purchasing” we are changing healthcare practices. Prevention, wellness, self-management, keeping people from re-admitting to hospitals, managing chronic illness for secondary prevention, and telehealth are practices embraced by many.

Occupational therapists add value to care in the setting of patient-centered medical homes. A patient with paraplegia came into a clinic to be seen for his shoulder pain. He rated his pain between 2 to 9 throughout the day. An occupational therapist, with the primary care clinician, attended the encounter. The occupational therapist gave prompt intervention to address pain management issues. The patient said, “It is eye-opening; gravity is pulling my weak, painful muscles. I can definitely do the three things you taught me. Yeah, I want to have occupational therapy to learn more.” He left happy. 

By: Shanpin Fanchiang, OTR/L

My OT Story: By Amber Guirola

One of the first patients I worked with was receiving therapy after suffering a stroke. She wanted to learn to walk and dance so she would be able to dance with her husband at their 50th wedding anniversary celebration later that year. She worked very hard and pushed herself to her limits to gain balance, strength, endurance, control and confidence to be able to dance through their song, “The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra.         

 By: Amber Guirola, COTA

My OT Story: By Debbie Wang

My first year creating a dance program for people with physical challenges was an inspirational and pivotal one for me. I had already been an OT for 5 years, and I had been working with my group of dancers for a few months to be a part of the Rancho Los Amigos Performing Arts Show. Needless to say, they did amazing! After the show, our group met and talked and I told them how proud I was of each and every one of them. One of the dancers turned to the group and shared something incredible. He said he felt particularly accomplished. However, what he was most proud of was not the dancing at all!  Our group “costume” for that show was our team shirt and blue jeans. He shared with us that after 20 years of being injured, he wore jeans for the first time that day. He explained he had worn sweatpants since his injury and he was so happy to be able to go to the store and buy blue jeans. He also shared that he had to use the regular toilet for the first time because we had to change before the show, and although he was afraid, he did it! As an OT, I could really appreciate what this meant for him (and I felt like the best OT ever!). That moment reaffirmed my belief in the power of meaningful occupation to change lives!

By: Debbie Wang, OTR/L

My OT Story: By Darren’s story submitted by his OT Stephanie Hayes-Jackson

I have been in occupational therapy on and off for the past six years. For some people, this might sound like a life sentence. After six strokes, I was told I would be lucky to be able to swallow…or roll over in bed. I had to relearn how to take care of myself with only half of my body cooperating. Dragging a shirt up my dead arm and shoulder, and wiggling into it. I hated it and occupational therapy. I wanted my old body back. For a long time I made just as much effort as I needed to stay in the program. It wasn’t conscious, I just couldn’t believe in myself; but my therapist did. At my lowest point, my therapist told me straight out: if I wanted to get better, I had to do the work. Otherwise I was wasting both our time. I hated hearing it and resented her. But I have to admit, she was right. I started doing the work. And the little achievements, the ones I would have disdained before because they were not good enough or big enough, started to make a difference in my life. With that momentum, I was able to make bigger changes in my life, cutting down on the negative behaviors that were, literally, killing me. If my therapists hadn’t made a long-term investment in me I would not have made that investment in myself.

By: Darren’s story submitted by his OT Stephanie Hayes-Jackson, OTR/L

My OT Story: By Ana Sandoval

I worked in many different areas before occupational therapy FOUND ME! I have found occupational therapy to be the most rewarding career. I am drawn by occupational therapy’s ability to look at patients holistically. I see every patient as my family (my father, mother, grandmother, brother, etc.). My job is to help them achieve their goals and show them a world of possibilities. The best part of my job is watching a patient’s attitude change from fear and uncertainty to hope and confidence. God bless all OTs!

By: Ana Sandoval, COTA

My OT Story: By Honor Galloway

Story 1:
 There was a young woman who had been injured during an accident in which she had been a passenger on a motorcycle. I met her soon after she had been discharged from inpatient rehabilitation. As a result of the accident, she had lost the movement in both legs and one arm, and was having trouble visualizing herself resuming her role as a student with goals and aspirations of success. She was afraid that she would not be able to manage in a classroom. However, with a lot of encouragement, she finally decided to try an online class which she felt was safer; and then she got the courage to take a class at school. I was so proud of her when she stopped to see her OTs a few weeks ago and shared that she was just one semester away from graduating from a California State University with a degree in accounting.

Story 2:
I had the opportunity to work with a remarkable woman who had severe shoulder pain as a result of rheumatoid arthritis. She was being evaluated for bilateral shoulder replacements, and during the pre-operative occupational therapy evaluation, I discovered that she loved art and music, and played the cello professionally. This was discussed with the surgeons, who agreed that during surgery for staged total shoulder arthroplasties they would place one of her shoulders with increased external rotation, and the other with increased internal rotation. This allowed her to continue to play her beloved cello after her shoulder replacements. Even after it became difficult to play professionally, she continued to get together and play with a small group of musicians. She also resumed painting which she had not done for years prior to her shoulder surgery, and has a painting hanging on one of the walls at Rancho Los Amigos. Whenever I pass that painting, I have fond memories of her success and the joy she found in her art and music.

By: Honor Galloway, OTR/L

My OT Story: By Michal Atkins

Eight days after giving birth to a healthy baby girl, a young mother had an injury that left her paralyzed from the neck down. She was admitted to Rancho Los Amigos Intensive Care Unit, and she and her husband were of course devastated. Her OT goals were to hold her baby in bed and have a fan to cool her face down. Her OT worked hard with the team to achieve the patient’s goals. It required assertive effort with all involved and dealing with a lot of bureaucracy….and it worked. When the day arrived and the patient was able to have her newly born baby girl in her arms, the patient and her husband were relieved and happy. It was a first ray of light for the patient and it made the staff and the occupational therapist realize how going the extra mile can make our patients’ lives better one day at a time.

By: Michal Atkins, OTR/L

My OT Story: By Monica Becerril

I love being an occupational therapist because I can try instilling hope to people who have suffered an accident, illness or injury so that they can live their lives and do the things that are important and meaningful to them.  I love being an occupational therapist because we try to help the whole person. For example, we address not only physical issues, but social, cultural, spiritual, environmental, familial, emotional, and personal issues. With our patients we can be creative problem-solvers to find ways to address each person’s unique needs and situations.

By: Monica Becerril, OTR/L

My OT Story: By Luini Ornelas

A patient of mine had his stroke in 2009. He received inpatient and outpatient therapy early in his recovery and had to end his program due to seizures. When he came back to OT this year, he recounted how little he could do for himself before therapy, and how he learned to take care of himself with the help of his occupational therapists. He enjoys taking the bus and going to the mall. He came back to OT to enhance his life further by getting back into cooking.

By: Luini Ornelas, OTR/L

My OT Story: By Lisa Deshaies

I love being an OT for countless moments of helping people achieve meaningful things big and small:
-          A grandmother holding her infant granddaughter to feed her
-          A law student graduating and passing the bar exam
-          A mother cooking spring rolls for her family
-          A rap artist holding a microphone and dancing
-          A camping enthusiast pitching a tent
-          A young woman applying her make-up
-          A boy playing baseball with his friends

What an honor to rebuild lives together!!

By: Lisa Deshaies, OTR/L

My OT Story: By Denise Ha

I love being an OT because I have the privilege of helping people discover that life can still be fulfilling and productive after a disabling illness or injury. I enjoy seeing people develop the self- confidence to step out of their homes and get back into the community; when they learn they can still do things they enjoy, despite their physical or cognitive changes. The best reward is being part of the journey of helping people pursue and achieve one of their most important goals in life: returning to school or work. 

By:Denise Ha, OTR/L

My OT Story: By Kathleen Shanfield

Story 1: 
Rancho Los Amigos has such a rich history of caring for patients, however participating in research has also always been important. I have been able to be involved in research as a “subject”, a research assistant and even as a published author! As a subject, I was on a treadmill while breathing polluted air, and also had tubes stuck up my nose to measure sinus pressure (ugh). I have collected data on hand surgery patients, use of mobile arm supports, aging with disability, and now for brain computer interface! This involvement in research has enriched my life as an OT at Rancho.

Story 2:
When I first started working at Rancho Los Amigos in 1980, I was on the Pulmonary Ward. I was responsible for taking care of all the young men with muscular dystrophy (MD) that lived there. They were the longest living patients with MD at the time. I became very close to the “boys” and spend hundreds of hours making splints, switches, arm supports and contraptions to allow them to drive their wheelchairs and do jobs like deliver mail around the hospital. To this day I credit them with my dedication to technology and problem solving that I use every day in the Center for Applied Rehabilitation Technology (CART)!

By: Kathleen Shanfield, OTR/L

My OT Blog: By Stephanie Yang

I was devastated when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was in high school. I felt like the medical providers were cold and offered very little hope. Our family roles and routines were changing and we did not know how to adjust and live with all these changes. This is what sparked a little fire inside of me to look into the medical professions. This is how I found OT.  I loved how OTs gave glimpses of hope when everything looked bleak. I loved how OTs sought to bring meaning to life again; and the hope that yes, life can be meaningful despite devastation.  I loved how OTs were creative, warm and full of compassion. This was not just “any” job. I chose to become an OT to serve others in a way that we missed out on when my mom was diagnosed with cancer. My mom has been cancer free for 19 years now. She lives a very full and meaningful life. I try to think of my mom when I am working with patients and my hope is that I may shed just a little bit of warmth to those that I work with.

By: Stephanie Yang, OTR/L