Occupational therapists can help patients overcome limitationsApril 21, 2015
(Nebraska) OT can make life OK.
April may be Occupational Therapy month, but the benefits can be all year long.
Therapy is for all stages of life.
“Preemies to geriatrics,” said Karen Felderman, OT, of Bennington.
“If people have an injury, I want them to be able to get back to their prior level of function,” said Jo Giddens of Fremont, OT, and rehabilitation director at Fremont Health.
Occupational Therapists help patients overcome limitations.
“Things you do every day in your life,” Felderman said. “We are very patient-driven.”
“With specialties in hands, pediatrics, geriatrics, wheelchair, ergonomics and schools,” Felderman added.
“There are only a few certified hand therapists in the state and we have one right here in Fremont,” Giddens said.
Brenda Halbmaier, OT, of Mead has seen hand injuries and conditions from relatively minor to severe.
Halbmaier specializes in hand, wrist and elbow trauma.
In her 19th year at Fremont Health, one crush injury case she worked with wins hands down.
“He may not have had hands — the surgeon didn’t know if he could save then, they were so badly damaged,” Halbmaier said.
With Halbmaier’s expertise, the patient improved.
“I’ve always been a hands-on therapist,” Halbmaier said. “I’m always trying to learn new things.”
There are other specialties at Fremont Health, Giddens explained, such as lymphedema management.
Felderman, a 24-year OT, is a certified lymphedema therapist.
Felderman treats people who have swelling in their arms, legs or trunk that is unable to be controlled without intervention.
Commonly, she works with post-mastectomy edema after breast cancer.
“Treatment will consist of manual lymph drainage, pneumatic pumping and compression via garments or wraps,” Felderman said.
One or a combination of these methods helps most patients.
“Very good outcomes,” Felderman added.
“Fremont Health really supports this program,” Felderman said. “I have a dedicated treatment space.”
Felderman also treats patients with cellulitis and venous stasis ulcers.
For Stacy Grewek, life is more than OK after seeking Felderman’s help.
“I had a double mastectomy in July 2012 — I had breast cancer,” the Fremont woman said.
During surgeries, four lymph nodes were removed on the left side and 27 on the right.
“I didn’t develop lymphedema right away,” Grewek noted.
“My arm started to swell,” Grewek added.
Once or twice a year, Grewek undergoes a series of massages on her forearm.
“I have a home pump and I wear an arm sleeve during the day,” Grewek said.
She adds a Tribute, a night compression garment, at night.
“Karen set me up with that,” Grewek explained.
Grewek has to hand it to Felderman far beyond the treatment room.
“Emotionally, she helped me accept that this is my life,” Grewek added. “I’ve done so much better.”
With children, therapists might concentrate on developmental delays, fine motor skills and recovery from injuries.
“Pediatrics is huge — looking at expanding that,” Felderman said.
Grewek is encouraging a friend to schedule an appointment with Felderman, who sees patients at Fremont Health from as far away as Des Moines, Iowa.
The hands-on therapists reach out in other ways.
Giddens recently hosted a health fair booth in Dodge promoting prevention and emphasizing exercise programs.
“The goal is not to come to us,” Giddens said with a smile.
A touching final thought.