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Brian Ledley Posted by: Brian Ledley 4 weeks ago

Throughout April, healthcare professionals and advocates worldwide are celebrating Occupational Therapy Month, recognizing the vital contributions of occupational therapists (OTs) in improving the lives of individuals facing physical, mental, developmental, or emotional challenges.

Occupational therapy focuses on helping people of all ages participate in meaningful activities or occupations that promote health, well-being, and independence. OTs work with a wide range of patients for shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand issues for both conservative and postoperative treatment. These efforts assist people in returning to many daily tasks with less effort and pain. Occupational therapists use techniques such as increasing the range of motion, strengthening, applying custom orthotics, adapting function, using adaptive equipment, and educating patients on body mechanics. Pulaski Memorial Hospital has two occupational therapists: Rhonda Lauro, OTR, and Alice Paulsen, OTR.

Rhonda has been with PMH since 2021. She has 23 years of experience working in various care settings, including inpatient, outpatient, swing-bed, acute rehabilitation and intensive care units, skilled nursing facilities, and home health care. Currently living in Rochester, Rhonda enjoys time with her dogs, traveling, crafting, and spending time with family. What she enjoys most about being an occupational therapist is seeing the process of someone learning how to do something new or in a different way or being able to do something new that they either could not do or found difficult before attending therapy.

Alice has been with PMH since 2008 and has 43 years of experience as an OT. She, too, has worked in inpatient, outpatient, swing-bed, home health care, and skilled nursing facilities. Additionally, Alice has experience in industrial rehab settings and schools. Alice currently lives in North Judson with her husband. She enjoys traveling, reading, sewing, and gardening. What she enjoys most about being an OT is the look on patients’ faces when they realize they can do daily tasks easier or for themselves again after an injury or illness.

One of the key themes of Occupational Therapy Month is advocacy for increased access to occupational therapy services. Many organizations and professionals are raising awareness about the importance of ensuring that individuals in need have equitable access to quality occupational therapy interventions, regardless of their geographic location, socioeconomic status, or healthcare coverage.

As a recent patient, Donna Hutton was surprised to learn about the care OTs could provide patients. “I always thought occupational therapists helped people with gripping and getting dressed,” said Donna. After struggling with pain in her shoulder for more than a year, Donna was referred for services by an orthopedist after discovering a partially torn rotator cuff. Over two months, Donna came for 18 therapy sessions. Using a variety of approaches, Donna worked on her range of motion and strengthening her shoulder. Donna was so impressed with the care she received from Rhonda, “Rhonda was so skilled and so compassionate. She encouraged me each session to get better. She was my biggest cheerleader.” Since completing her treatment plan, Donna has returned to some of her favorite activities, including kayaking while on vacation.

Furthermore, Occupational Therapy Month serves as an opportunity to recognize the innovation and creativity of occupational therapists in adapting to changing healthcare landscapes. From telehealth services to incorporating assistive technology and environmental modifications, OTs continually strive to enhance their practice and improve outcomes for their clients.

Occupational Therapy Month is a time to honor the dedication, compassion, and expertise of occupational therapists worldwide as they continue to make a profound difference in the lives of individuals and communities they serve – and we thank them for all they do.

PMH’s Occupational Therapy services are available Monday – Friday, with appointments in both Winamac and Francesville. A referral for services is needed by your care provider to schedule an appointment. For any questions or to schedule an appointment, please call (574) 946-2157. Rhonda and Alice are always happy to discuss how skilled occupational therapy could benefit a patient.