This week is National Rehabilitation Awareness Celebration Week. When I started to think about what this week means to me, I was actually at a loss for words — an unusual state for me. As a physical therapist at Hospital for Special Surgery, every week feels like a celebration of rehabilitation. I was not convinced that this week was going to be any different. And yet, this week does feel different. The chance to reflect and to be mindful of what I do – and to share it here – is a gift.
The key for me is the “awareness” portion of the celebration of rehabilitation. Too often, it is easy to take what you do for granted. One of my first mentors here at HSS, my clinical supervisor at the time, taught me a life lesson that I think of almost every day. Every year, we see thousands of individuals after total hip or knee replacement surgery, day in and day out. But she would say that even if this was the hundredth (or millionth) time you taught someone how to perform bedside exercises, for this patient, today, this was the first and only time that she would have to learn the exercise. This patient was someone’s mother, wife, aunt or daughter, and deserved the best from each and every single time we worked with her. We needed to be aware that every interaction mattered, and every interaction was another chance to be our best and elicit our patient’s best. Every visit is a chance to celebrate rehabilitation awareness.
While I am mindful of my role in the care of inpatients and evaluation of children with cerebral palsy, I am even more aware of the excellence that surrounds me everyday. I know that it takes a village to raise our children. I know that I am part of the “rehabilitation” village of HSS to get our patients better. This is a huge village of therapists, exercise physiologists, administrative staff, technicians, engineers, volunteers and students whose entire goal is to make the process of rehabilitation more effective and less stressful for patients. We have experts in speech and language pathology, occupational therapy and physical therapy. We have clinical specialists in every section – Inpatients, Hand Therapy, Sports Rehabilitation and Performance, Pediatric Rehabilitation, the Joint Mobility Center, the Motion Analysis Laboratory and the Integrative Care Center, as well as our many offsite locations. These are people who excel not only as individuals, but even more impressively as a finely tuned team. This team’s goal is to maximize the effectiveness of rehabilitation and the entire experience of the rehabilitation process.
I invite each of you to join the National Rehabilitation Awareness Celebration. I know that I will spend this week being grateful to be included.
Sherry Backus is a doctor of physical therapy and clinical supervisor of the Leon Root, MD Motion Analysis Laboratory at Hospital for Special Surgery. She has been a proud member of the HSS Rehabilitation Department for over 30 years, and was the 2010 recipient of the Wholeness of Life Award, a prestigious award presented annually by the HealthCare Chaplaincy, a citywide multi-faith community of professionals from many cultures dedicated to caring for persons in spirit, mind, and body.