Inspirational Breakthrough Moments

Posted on December 27th, 2013 by Denise | No Comments

Inspirational Breakthrough Moments


Denise Koonce OTR

A REACH therapist recently shared an email about an experience she had with one of her patients.  I was informed about the email from the executive director who was moved to tears while simply telling me about the email.  I believe this story is worthy of sharing and in telling this story it cannot help but warm the hearts of those who hear it.  The following is a summation from the email the treating therapist shared:

An eleven year old boy with a diagnosis of CMV, seizures and severe Cerebral Palsy recently began receiving occupational therapy at the clinic.  He is transported via ambulance and arrives at the clinic on a stretcher.   His body has become contracted over time limiting his movement and he can only purposefully move his head while supported.   Based on his significant past medical history, lack of speech, and information provided by his family, it was thought or assumed that he was at a low cognitive level.  However, as therapists do, she worked within the abilities he exhibited and began to use them to his advantage.  As a therapist there is an innate desire to dig deep and make sure that every stone has been turned over and every aspect of intervention tried in an effort to improve the quality of our patients’ lives.  A perfect example of this therapist characteristic was when the therapist decided to introduce him to a simple switch he could activate with his head.  She initially tried a vibrating switch and a jelly bean switch to activate music with success.  Due to his successful activation of the switches she further decided to try using a switch for him to respond to yes/no questions.  Much to everyone’s surprise, including his family’s, he was able to answer several orientation questions accurately.  I was not there but I can only imagine the emotions that were felt at that moment on all sides of the table.  I simply get chill bumps thinking about the story and have the urge to jump up and down and do a little dance as I relate it to similar moments I have had in my career.  The significance of this moment is monumental for this young boy because from here on out he can have a say about his world.  He can now communicate his needs, wants, and wishes.  He can have some independence in the world around him that he did not have before.  His quality of life has forever been changed and improved!  Brilliant!      

Moments like this are what being a therapist is about.  These moments are what carry you through the tough times and help fill your heart with joy reminding you of the beauty in being a therapist.  I have had the honor and pleasure of having a few of these moments in my career that bring me to laughter and tears all at the same time.  My cheeks begin to hurt from smiling so much at the sheer joy of seeing someone accomplish something for the first time that will significantly improve the quality of their life.  At the end of the therapist’s email she simply typed and I quote “I love my job!”

If in your career, as a therapist, you have had similar experiences please share them with us.  As we look toward the New Year to come, it is good to reflect back on what has come before and the desire to have multiple moments such as this in the New Year ahead.  From all of us to all of you, Happy New Year!

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