Have you thanked a rehabilitation professional today? It’s National Rehabilitation Awareness Week!

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Patient Dexter Newton and charge nurse Rahab Kimura at Encompass Health Lakeshore. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

Is there a physical, occupational or speech therapist in your life? This is the week to celebrate them–September 15-21, 2019 is National Rehabilitation Awareness Week. We spoke with rehabilitation professionals at Encompass Health’s Lakeshore Rehabilitation Hospital in Birmingham to commemorate the occasion! 

What’s National Rehabilitation Awareness Week?

National Rehabilitation Awareness Week–AKA Rehab Week–recognizes those working in the rehabilitation field as well as those with disabilities. It’s a week to celebrate those whose lives are impacted positively by rehabilitation programs and the people working to make it happen. Encompass Health, based right here in Birmingham, is one of the largest providers of these programs in the U.S.

Who are the patients at Encompass Health’s Lakeshore Rehabilitation Hospital?

Encompass Health’s Lakeshore Rehabilitation Hospital sees an average of 92 patients a day. Patients at the hospital have experienced a stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury or orthopedic surgery. They go to Encompass Health for therapies that will help them return to their normal activities.

Moving to the music

Wesley Hyde plays the piano at Encompass Health Lakeshore. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

One of these therapies is music therapy. Wesley Hyde, music therapist, has worked at Encompass Health for over two years. He uses instruments and singing to help patients improve movement and speech. Singing is often the first step to restoring speech to the patients he sees.

“We had a patient who couldn’t speak, but came in and started singing ‘You Are My Sunshine’,” said Hyde. It brought the patient to tears. “People have a lot of ‘a ha’ moments in here.” 

These moments are what Hyde loves about his job. He also appreciates that Encompass Health advocates for music therapy, which is something you won’t find in all rehab settings. His favorite part of the job? “Getting to rock out with patients,” he said. 

Wesley Hyde of Encompass Health. In addition to using instruments for rehabilitation, Hyde has been spotted dancing with patients to help get them back on their feet

One-on-one care

Rahab Kimura, charge nurse at Encompass Health. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

Rahab Kimura, charge nurse, knew her passion in life was nursing when she was 10 years old. The one-on-one care she’s able to give patients and the progress she sees are what keep her going.

“Having a goal of getting patients to the highest potential they can achieve and getting them back into the community motivates me,” she said. 

Kimura has been with Encompass Health for almost a decade. The company supported her going to school and getting her nursing degree and, eventually, her CRRN (Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse) credentials. 

The goal: getting back into the community

A patient’s stay at Encompass Health’s Lakeshore Rehabilitation Hospital is typically 12 to 15 days. The goal is to restore them back to their normal activities despite the challenges they face after illness, injury or surgery.

Natalie Nadler, case manager at Encompass Health Lakeshore. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

Natalie Nadler, case manager, oversees this process. As a licensed social work professional, her career goal has always been to help people. She works with nurses and others in the department and likes the collaborative nature of the hospital. “The whole team is helping the patient recover,” she said. 

Her favorite part about working at Encompass Health? “The wisdom I get from the elderly folks I work with,” she said. “They are so amazing. They’re so grateful for improvement and the ability to be independent and stay in their homes.”

Let the games begin

One-handed Mr. Potato Head assembly. Photo via Encompass Health

Rehabilitation is serious business, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. This week, staff and patients at Encompass Health are commemorating Rehab Week in a variety of ways. They just held the Empathy Games, an event in which staff complete activities that simulate what their patients’ experience. This included wheelchair racing and a one-armed Mr. Potato Head assembly.

Wheelchair racing. Photo via Encompass Health

Thank you

Rehabilitation professionals in Birmingham and across the country are helping people every single day. Let’s take a moment to recognize them this week!

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Taylor Babington
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