UPHS – Bell offers wide range of therapy options

ISHPEMING — When someone hears the term rehabilitation, physical therapy is typically what comes to mind. But at UP Health System — Bell, individuals needing therapy can access not only physical therapy, but the full team of therapies, including occupational and speech therapies.

“Having the highly skilled rehab team that we have allows us the opportunity to make a bigger impact on the people that we serve,” says Rich Matthews, the Rehab Services Director at UPHS — Bell.

With all three disciplines in its rehab program, UPHS — Bell is able to provide comprehensive care — which is important with more complex injuries and diagnoses. For instance, if a patient had a stroke or brain injury, it’s common to see the therapy professions of PT, OT and speech therapy, work together and complement each other’s goals in their treatment for the patient.

“The nice thing about what we have here with all three disciplines under the same roof is comprehensive care & good effective communication,” Matthews said. “At Bell, we pride ourselves in the personal care that is provided within our rehab department.”

UPHS — Bell provides both inpatient as well as outpatient therapy services in all three disciplines. Total joint replacement therapy to swing bed therapy services are just a couple of areas that the rehabilitation department works with in this setting.

In outpatient, UPHS – Bell possesses a number of therapy services not seen just anywhere. Rich Matthews is one of just five certified hand therapists in the UP and the only one on the west end of Marquette County. Kirsten Matthews, an occupational therapist, is certified in lymphedema therapy, which treats individuals with chronic edema, as well as extensively trained in the rehabilitative treatment of pediatric disorders, including sensory processing issues, autism spectrum disorders, torticollis and a wide range of developmental delays. Christi Schmitt (PT) has extensive experience with pediatrics but is well rounded to works with adults. Jayne LaRock is a speech therapist with advanced training in sensory and feeding disorders, while Kate Kenney, SLP deals with swallowing disorders and working with children on the autism spectrum.

“There are a lot of specialty areas that we are very fortunate to have here at UPHS – Bell,” Matthews said.

Here is an overview of the three professions of the rehab department:

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) 

As defined by the American Speech and Hearing Association, SLPs work to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders in children and adults.

Speech disorders are when an individual has difficulty producing speech sounds correctly or fluently or has problems with voice resonance.

Language disorders happen when a person has trouble understanding others, or sharing thoughts, ideas and feelings. These disorders can be spoken or written and can involve the content and use of language in functional and socially acceptable ways.

Social communication disorders deal with an individual’s difficulty with the social use of verbal and nonverbal communication, such as communicating for social purposes (saying hello or asking questions), talking in different ways to match the environment and following conversational rules and storytelling. While social communication problems are a characteristic of individuals with autism spectrum disorders, it can also be found in those with other conditions, such as traumatic brain injury.

Speech therapists also work with individuals with cognitive-communication disorders.  Cognitive-communication disorders deal with organizing thoughts, paying attention, remembering, planning and/or problem-solving. These can be the result of a stroke, traumatic brain injury or dementia, although they can be congenital.

Occupational Therapists (OTs)

OTs help people of all ages with their daily activities. The American Occupational Therapy Association notes that occupational therapy helps people function in all of their environments, whether that be at home, school or work.

Occupational therapy addresses the physical, psychological and cognitive aspects of their well-being through engagement in occupation.

Common examples of occupational therapy include helping children with disabilities to participate in school and develop social skills, helping people recover from an injury to regain function through retraining and providing support for older adults who experience physical and cognitive changes.

Occupational services may also include evaluations of a patient’s home and other environments, training in how to modify a task, recommendation for adaptive equipment and training and general guidance and education for family members and caregivers.

Physical Therapists (PTs)

As defined by the American Physical Therapy Association, PTs manage pain and improve or restore mobility, and in many cases, they can make those improvements without expensive surgery and often reduce the need for the long-term use of prescription medications.

PTs teach patients how to manage their condition so individuals can achieve long-term benefits. They develop a plan to restore a patient’s help through examination and using techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function and prevent disability. PTs also work with clients to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing programs to lead healthier and more active lifestyles.

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While each discipline has its own areas of specialty, there also are areas in which some of these displines share or overlap in their skills, but treat the patient through the lenses of their profession.  Having a comprehensive team such as the one at UPHS – Bell helps maximize each individuals personal recovery with the resources they need.

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