The term occupational does not solely mean job-related. For Occupational Therapists, this term encompasses all things a person wants or needs to do. “We call them Activities of Daily Living (ADL),” said Jordan Wood, Froedtert South Occupational Therapist and Certified Lymphedema Therapist. “ADLs include eating, bathing, driving a car, and other activities that a person performs regularly. After an injury, Occupational Therapy helps patients regain function or adapt to new ways of functioning to perform their daily activities.”
CREATED FOR RECOVERY
“I enjoy telling people how Occupational Therapy began,” said Jordan, who is also the Froedtert South Outpatient Clinical Occupational Therapy Coordinator. “After World War I, Occupational Therapy gained popularity. Occupational Therapists used simple arts and crafts activities to help injured soldiers return to performing activities of daily living. There is an important emotional component to this therapeutic recovery as well. I love that this profession is not just about restoring function, but it is also about restoring people.”
Froedtert South’s Occupational Therapists provide acute care for patients in the hospital as well as outpatient services at both the Pleasant Prairie Clinic and Prairie Ridge Clinic. “We provide services for a vast array of patient needs from spinal cord injuries and overuse injuries to patients with Parkinson’s Disease or patients recovering from a stroke. We most commonly treat patients with upper extremity (finger to shoulder) weakness or injuries. Some patients may need Occupational Therapy after a medical procedure such as a carpal tunnel release. Whatever injury, accident or life situation brings a patient to our clinic, we are prepared to help them recover,” said Jordan.
Tami Carr, Physical Therapist and Director of Rehabilitation Services said, “After a traumatic injury or life-altering event, patients need to learn to adapt to their new normal. A patient may need to learn how to eat and get dressed using a non-dominant hand or learn how to return to work-related tasks with confidence. Occupational Therapists teach patients how to gain confidence in their abilities and how to be resilient.”
CONTINUUM OF CARE
Occupational Therapy and Lymphedema Therapy are instrumental in establishing a collaborative continuum of care for Froedtert South patients. Patients receiving orthopedic interventions may need therapy services to improve their range of motion or return to function. With the proximity of Orthopedics and Occupational Therapy, doctors and therapists have direct communication regarding patient care. Patients also benefit from the convenience of scheduling appointments within the same building.
Lymphedema Therapists work closely with the Oncology Department. Lymphedema is a collection of fluid in the tissues just beneath the skin that causes swelling. Mostly in the arms and legs, this swelling interferes with healthy blood flow and wound healing. “Patients that have breast cancer may have reduced range of motion of their arms due to lymphedema. Lymphedema Therapy can help such patients increase their range of motion so they can perform functional ADLs such as taking a dish out of the microwave or removing clothes from the washing machine,” said Jordan. “Lower extremity lymphedema can impede a patient’s ability to put their shoes on or get in and out of bed. Our specialized Lymphedema Therapy can help patients achieve a more functional quality of life.”
“The end goal is always for the patient to return to function,” said Tami, “and Jordan goes above and beyond to simulate with the patient what they need to do to perform their desired ADL. Jordan gets very creative with tools and resources to help patients.”
A SHORTCUT LED TO A LONG RECOVERY
Kenosha resident Larry Kroes enjoyed creating custom woodworking projects in his home workshop. Larry ran his hand over a piece of wood he was crafting and felt a little bump. Wanting the piece to be perfect, he performed one last quick cut with the table saw. “I felt a pinch on my hand, and I did not even know what happened. In my hurry to finish, I accidentally cut much more than the piece of wood,” said Larry.
Two of Larry’s digits were severed, and, due to complications, they were unable to be reattached. With just three fingers left on his non-dominant hand, Larry was scared, he was in pain, and he needed to learn new ways to perform everyday activities. “My Froedtert South hand surgeon, Dr. Hill, recommended that I go downstairs from his clinic to see Jordan and be custom fitted for an orthosis. Jordan was attentive to every detail, and she spent an impressive amount of time ensuring everything was just right. Without a doubt, I wanted her as my therapist,” said Larry.
“Orthosis fabrication is one of my favorite aspects of the job because I get to use my innovation skills,” said Jordan. “For Larry, I needed to fabricate an orthosis to protect his amputation site and protect his tendon repair. I had to get very creative by combining these.”
Initially, Larry had so much scar tissue that he could not bend his adjacent finger. After several months of Occupational Therapy with Jordan, his finger is now moveable. Jordan said, “Larry had to learn how to use his remaining fingers to perform his ADLs, so we must ensure his fingers have full range of motion and are as strong as possible to compensate for the amputated digits. Larry has adapted to using his thumb webspace for pinching.”
Larry said, “Jordan always explains what she is doing and the purpose of every treatment and decision. She provides me with the encouragement I need to learn new ways of using my hand. Jordan has made this journey easier for me. I am extremely grateful for her and pleased with the progress I have made. Jordan has taught me that I can do everything with eight fingers that I could do with ten. Thanks to Occupational Therapy, I can carry on with my life.”
REGAINING STRENGTH AND CONFIDENCE
As a result of a terrible accident in her home, Karolina G. broke her right arm near her wrist which rendered her fingers immovable. With the accident and her subsequent surgery, Karolina’s hand was dangerously swollen, and she needed to start moving her fingers. Dr. Zacharias, Froedtert South Orthopedic Surgeon, referred Karolina to begin Occupational Therapy with Jordan.
Jordan said, “First we had to get Karolina’s edema under control so she could move her wrist. Once her motion returned, we began strengthening. Karolina drives for her job, and she was apprehensive about her ability to perform the duties of a truck driver, such as opening and closing trailer doors. In the clinic, we simulated her specific work-related tasks by using a resistive rubber bar to increase her strength. Karolina has successfully regained her independence and has returned to work.”
“I was emotional from the trauma I experienced, and Jordan immediately took me under her wing,” said Karolina. “Jordan is calm and patient. She focused on my needs emotionally and physically while always maintaining the goal of my full recovery. I began learning how to write with my left hand thinking I would never use my right hand again. However, with Jordan’s therapy I went from zero percent movement of my right hand to ninety-seven percent movement, and I am still progressing. Jordan made me feel seen and heard through my recovery. Occupational Therapy is not just a job for Jordan. She truly helps people.”
HELP IS HERE FOR YOU
Jordan said, “I am from Kenosha, and I care about this community. I see my patients around town, and it means a lot that my work at Froedtert South improves the lives of residents.” Froedtert South has an extensive Rehabilitation Services program that is ready to serve our community. For Occupational and Lymphedema Therapies, please consult with your physician for a referral. Additional therapies include but are not limited to Physical Therapy, Speech and Language Pathology, Cardiac Rehabilitation, Audiology, and Aquatic Therapy.