Occupational Therapy Patient Stories
Read the success stories of some of our occupational therapy patients. If you have a story to share, please fill out our online form.
Lois Rodman, 66, was helping her granddaughter, Lily, with her math homework when suddenly she couldn’t make out what was written in the textbook. She looked at Lily and realized she wasn’t able to see the details of her face.
“My eyesight had been deteriorating since I was 43 years old,” remembered Lois. “My father had macular degeneration so there was a chance I’d develop it as well. When I could no longer see my granddaughter’s face, that was it. I knew I had to do something before I went blind.”
Lois’ daughter did some research and learned that her mother’s eyesight could be improved by having an intraocular microscopic telescope (IMT) implanted in the eye. This device improves vision in people with atrophic or “dry,” age-related macular degeneration.
Read Lois's Full Story
Lois had the IMT implanted in her right eye at the UPMC Eye Center in Oakland and began occupational therapy at the UPMC Centers for Rehab Services Low Vision Clinic the next day.
“After the procedure, it’s hard to train your brain to relearn how to make your eye work,” said Lois. “My therapist, Holly, explained each exercise in detail and told me why I had to do it, which made it easier for me to understand the process and accept it. When I became really frustrated, she talked me through some really tough times.”
Since Lois was having difficulty reading from a distance, Holly helped her adapt by creating various colored dots to put on every other number on Lois’ microwave. She also had Lois trace circles on paper and say what colors and letters she saw when she painted. Holly provided her with the tools she needed in order to learn how to see with the IMT.
“If you ever think therapy is one of those things you can just blow off, you’re wrong,” said Lois. “Therapy is a vital part of your recovery and Holly made the journey more fun. UPMC Centers for Rehab Services provided great therapy to help me train my brain so I could see through the new eye,” said Lois.
“The other day Lily asked me, ‘Bubby, can you see me now?’” recalled Lois. “I gave her a big hug and told her, ‘Yes, honey, I’m so happy that I can see your face again.’ That made all those weeks of therapy worthwhile.”
Read more about the occupational therapy program at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.
When Diane was preparing for her New Year’s activities, the last thing she was thinking about was occupational therapy. But when walking up the stairs to her house, she slipped and fell, landing awkwardly on her left arm.
After a visit to the emergency department at UPMC Presbyterian, it was determined that the injury was much worse than it looked and she would need to have surgery to repair her broken left wrist. To make matters worse, Diane is left-handed and was about to return to work after the holiday vacation.
Read Diane's Full Story
Diane’s surgery at UPMC Presbyterian was scheduled shortly after the injury. Having not been in the hospital or injured for quite a long time, she was concerned about her hand and what would happen next. The surgery went well and her wrist was repaired by plastic surgeons at UPMC Presbyterian. However the surgery left Diane with a 5” metal plate and four screws in her wrist. She would need occupational therapy after the surgery to get her hand back to where it was before the accident.
Not knowing much about occupational therapy, Diane was a bit apprehensive about the process and what would be in store for her. Upon first walking into her UPMC Centers for Rehab Services (CRS) location, Diane said that her therapist Kim confessed that she thought Diane would be her problem child. "But she ended up being the model patient,” recalled Kim.
Diane tackled her therapy head on, rigorously adhering to the individualized plan her therapists created that was geared toward her specific needs and goals. She was in therapy for three months but is now back to work.
“I just can’t say enough about Kim Maguire, Marie Pace, Scott, Valerie, the interns, everyone. They were just phenomenal,” said Diane.
When asked what she would tell other people in a similar situation, Diane said “I had to do therapy at home, three times a day in between my sessions at CRS. But you know what? Suck it up. You just have to do it. It’s the only way you’re going to get better."
After a bad fall resulted in two broken wrists that required surgery, Adeline, 75, found herself at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services (CRS) in Oakland. She was referred there by her surgeon who recommended she have extensive hand, arm, and shoulder therapy. Adeline was confident in CRS because both her husband and granddaughter had positive experiences there.
When she started occupational therapy, Adeline’s casts had just been removed. Due to lack of movement, her arms felt weak and she was having difficulty with daily tasks, such as bathing and feeding herself, and cleaning her home.
“When I started therapy, they questioned how much movement I would be able to get back,” recalled Adeline. “My therapists were so patient with me. I’m no spring chicken, but they stuck with me and did such a wonderful job.”
Read Adeline's Full Story
Adeline enjoyed therapy so much that she actually looked forward to going. “I didn’t want to quit when it was time! I wanted to keep going,” she said.
Adeline’s occupational therapy required twice daily visits. Since she no longer drives, the team at CRS made sure to accommodate her so she wouldn’t have to miss any appointments.
“They were so thoughtful and flexible,” said Adeline. “I was dropped off at CRS at 8:30 in the morning and they would let me stay for two full hours of therapy instead of having to leave and come back later in two separate trips. That made things so much easier for me.”
Despite her prognosis at the beginning of therapy, Adeline has been able to recover much of the movement in her hands.
“While I was there they also worked on my balance, to avoid another fall,” said Adeline. “I almost got to the point where I could stand on one leg for 18 seconds. Now I am able to go to group exercise classes and participate in those activities. A lot of the exercises remind me of therapy and I really enjoy that.”
Adeline is back to doing the things she loves. She says that she has the wonderful team of therapists at CRS to thank for getting her back to her old self.
“I highly recommend them,” she said. “I give them an A plus!”
When Kathy fell last October and fractured her humerus bone,
the long bone between the shoulder and the elbow, she tried to keep her
“Being an optimist can sometimes be a drawback,” said Kathy. “We tend to get disappointed a lot.”
Kathy figured she would be back to normal within six to eight weeks but was shocked when her hand swelled to twice its normal size and remained that way. With swelling and arthritis setting in, Kathy was immobilized in her left quadrant for over two months.
Read Kathy's Full Story
“At that point, I couldn’t imagine doing the things I love like playing in the swimming pool with my grandsons, gardening, and all the things Pittsburghers like to do after a long, cold winter,” said Kathy.
It was then that her orthopaedic surgeon referred her to Patrick Wholey, an occupational therapist at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services in Greentree.
"Patrick and his student Jonathan couldn’t have been more
kind and caring to me,” said Kathy. “With their excellent know-how, my arm and hand have been totally rehabbed.
Kathy is back to driving with confidence and is looking forward to this summer in her garden and swimming pool. She’s grateful for the care she received from her therapists at CRS.
Dan is a man on the move. With his work regularly taking him as far away as Hawaii, occupational therapy isn’t something that fits easily into his busy schedule. But when he severed tendons in his left index finger while trying to open a package with a knife, he found himself under the care of the UPMC Centers for Rehab Services team at the CRS Hand Clinic in Oakland.
“After my surgery to repair the damage, I was referred to Kim and the O.T. team at the CRS Hand Clinic in Oakland. They are literally walking distance from my office so it was very easy for me to fit in therapy sessions during the day,” said Dan.
Knowing how demanding his schedule was, the CRS team did everything they could to accommodate him and make sure he stayed on track.
Read Dan's Full Story
“Everyone there was so nice and so accommodating,” said Dan. “Kim would give me exercises to do while I was out of town on business and she would continuously follow up via email to make sure I was staying with the program. It was very clear how all the members of the team - Kim, Marie, Scott and Val - were committed to my recovery and it showed in the way they tended to me.”
Dan said that their care and attention weren’t exclusive to his therapy. They went above and beyond in ways that he did not expect.
“One problem that was a direct result of my injury was that my fingers on my left hand became very swollen. Because of the swelling I wasn’t able to wear my wedding ring for several months,” he said. “My wife got in touch with Kim and asked if she would measure me on the fly to get my ring resized and true to form, Kim found a way to work that into therapy so I wouldn’t be suspicious. Sure enough, for Christmas I got my ring back in a new size as a gift from my wife and I’m now able to wear it. I thought it was so nice what Kim did for me. I can’t imagine that very many healthcare providers would do that for someone. I really appreciated it more than they know.”
Dan, who has completed his therapy for his injury, credits the team at
CRS for helping him get back to doing the things that he loves, including riding his bike again. He highly recommends CRS to any and all who are looking for exceptional occupational therapy care.
On July 2, 2013, Nick had a terrible accident while on the job. Working as a machinist at a local company, his left hand got caught in a press and was amputated.
Nick was flown by Stat MedEvac to UPMC Presbyterian where surgeons from UPMC were able to successfully reattach Nick's hand. But that was really just the beginning of the recovery process for Nick as he would need ongoing therapy to regain the use of his hand and heal.
Nick chose the UPMC Centers for Rehab Services Hand Therapy clinic in Oakland for his occupational therapy.
Read Nick's Full Story
Within a few weeks of surgery, Nick had his first therapy session with Kim Maguire, MS, OTR/L, CHT. "We went over what to expect and what the treatment would be like. When I first started, my hand was still wrapped up and we started with a lot of stretching," says Nick. "My therapist Kim and the entire staff at CRS are excellent, without a doubt. I see them work with every type of injury. They're extremely friendly and welcoming."
Nick started therapy three times a week but recently stepped down to twice weekly, in addition to the exercises he does at home as prescribed by his therapy team.
Nick is very upbeat about his recovery. "I'm making excellent progress. I have almost all the mobility back. Now I'm working on improving my fine motor skills and waiting for some of the nerves to heal."
When Nick finishes therapy, he fully expects to get back to work as a machinist.