FOR CLIENTS AND FAMILIES
WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED FROM OUR CLIENTS ABOUT THE BRAIN
From Meg Scaling, CEO, OTR/L
It is hard to put into words what we have learned from working with clients who have endured a traumatic brain injury, concussion, or neurological disorder. We have learned that the brain wants to get better. It wants to heal, and it wants to get back to the way it used to be.
The brain is also very efficient, and if something is too difficult, it may want to avoid the task in order to save energy. Therefore, if we let the brain rest, it is efficient, and it will continue to rest.
On the contrary, if we overload the brain with too much information and make it do things it is not yet ready to do, it will also shut down in a self-protection response. This occurs, for example, when someone is taken into a noisy store, sporting event, or family party, and within a few minutes, an individual may feel that they need to retreat from an over-stimulating environment.
Over time, and because our clients have entrusted us with helping their brain heal, we have learned that we need to continue to push the brain by challenging our clients to a “JUST RIGHT CHALLENGE” (not too fast, and not too slow) so that the brain keeps healing. There is no such thing as a plateau. It is impossible. The brain will keep healing. We, as therapists, along with our clients just need to keep it challenged.
As stated in our mission, we employ an all-inclusive approach to help our clients live their best lives. We understand that this may include working not just in the clinic setting but also in their natural environments. We reach out to treat individuals in the communities where they work, live, and play whenever possible.
WHOLE BRAIN: We also will encourage clients to attend whole brain exercise therapy in the clinic setting whenever possible because we truly feel that it is beneficial to everyone who is trying to regain function (and even for brain health). If an individual is unable to access the clinic, we will do our best to bring whole brain exercise to them via home visits and teletherapy.
UNMASKING: We understand that many of our clients who have concussions and traumatic brain injuries may have been masking their deficits (hiding them) for weeks, months, or even years with the idea that eventually the deficits or problems might go away or perhaps get better.
Often we find months/years of mail, paperwork, household projects, and clutter that have accumulated over time because our clients simply have not had the energy, concentration, or ability to address those areas of their home after their injury.
STRATEGIES: Our approach in therapy involves making sure we help our clients organize their home so that it is once again functional for their unique abilities, provide compensatory tools that help individuals maintain organization, and teach skills so individuals can once again resume household tasks. We teach executive functioning strategies, and we physically prepare them to navigate safely in their home and community.
TEAMWORK: As a team of therapists, we work on improving many other areas of functioning including balance and vestibular function, speaking and communication, cognitive functioning, pain management and strengthening, relaxation techniques, basic self-care, safety, and community reintegration.
REAL WORLD THERAPY: Community reintegration includes helping individuals to overcome anxiety, PTSD, and cognitive or decision-making problems while in the community. For example, we help clients develop strategies, and we accompany them in their personal environments to help provide those JUST RIGHT CHALLENGES on which to successfully build upon. The MOST IMPORTANT thing about doing hard things is that CLIENTS BUILD ON THEIR SUCCESSES! Following any treatment at Galaxy, we want the last thing you remember to be the goals you met, baby steps you took, and positive interactions you had in the community.
Too often, clients think back to the time they went into the grocery store and left the cart in the store, never purchasing the groceries because they were too overwhelmed by the shopping experience. We don't want that to be our clients last memory. This type of outcome creates too much anticipatory anxiety and task avoidance!
BUILD ON POSITIVES: We want your last recollection to be of a JUST RIGHT CHALLENGE that involved some new learning, some strategies, and some positive support and encouragement. We recognize and understand that clients will most likely need more help from their therapists at first, but over time, they will be able to do more as they build their confidence and skills.
TRUST: Building trusting relationships with clients is essential for our clients to truly allow themselves to become vulnerable with the therapists. Clients are in good hands at Galaxy, and our expertly trained therapists understand how to progress therapy according to clients individual skills and needs. We understand that we are treating your mind and body. Therefore, it is necessary to assess any mood disorders, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health issues as we move clients toward greater independence. Trusting one's therapist is key to increasing confidence and skills in the community and learning strategies that help our clients regain independence.
UNIQUE NEEDS: Every treatment is unique, as well as the strategies and combination of tools and skill sets we teach. Each goal we work on is as particular as the individual with whom we are working.
NO EXPLAINING/WE UNDERSTAND: We understand neurological disorders and needs. Many times clients say, “How did you know to ask that question?” during the initial evaluation. We have been working in the field of brain injury, concussion, PCS, PTSD, vestibular rehabilitation, and neurological disorders for over 20 years. You don't have to teach us about your diagnosis -- just let us learn about you as a person. Tell us who you were, who you are now, and who you want to be. We can handle the rest!
OUR CLINIC SETTING
Galaxy Brain and Therapy Center was established because we recognized that while therapy in the home and community are extremely functional and a big part of what we do, there is also a need for all people to have a sense of community. Many people with brain injuries feel very isolated and alone in their recovery.
Our Galaxy clinic is designed to allow our clients to do the following:
- Challenge the brain and body with exercises that are difficult to do in the home. Clients will leave the clinic tired (in a good way!). For this reason, some clients choose to have someone bring them to the clinic or they use transportation services since we really challenge your brain in new and exciting ways. We also have areas and rooms where clients may rest before heading back home. We know brain work is hard work, so we make every accommodation to help our clients get better!
- Provide a space where multidisciplinary needs can be met (OT, PT, SLP, and massage/body work).
- Provide a community space for learning and fun.
- Provide opportunities for clients to meet other clients with similar diagnoses and even participate in group and community classes/events.
- Provide a setting for continued research and learning for new and effective ways to stimulate the brain.
We teach simultaneous whole brain exercise where the right and left half of your body, your arms and your legs, your eyes, and your mind will be working together at one time. No more weight machines and typical exercise alone.
Our exercises also tap into old motor pathways. For example, if a client was an athlete, we may have them swing a golf club, baseball bat, or shoot a basket if they played specific sports. We will attempt to get our client’s brain to remember how it felt to move that way and build from that to continue to challenge the brain and body in ways that are supported by neuroscience.
We are so excited to be a part of changing the way therapists treat clients, and we promise to be intentional about every minute of time spent with our clients.
We are willing to work in the home and community in order to meet our clients where they are at. Not all insurances provide coverage for this, so we do our best to continue to get out in real life community settings like the pharmacy, grocery store, and coffee shops to proactively use our skills, even with clients who come to the clinic for therapy.
Occupational Therapists (OT) are able to work on physical rehabilitation of the body and cognitive rehabilitation of the mind, as well as utilize a holistic approach to assist the client in regaining confidence. They do this by helping our clients set and attain goals that are based on improving independence in areas of work/vocation, home management, safety, community-based tasks, physical strengthening, cognitive rehabilitation, and self-care. Occupational Therapy will assess an individual’s variety of roles in life (both past and present) and work on setting goals to help that individual return to fulfilling those positions. The ultimate goal of Occupational Therapy is to help an individual achieve joy in life once again.
Physical Therapists (PT) are able to work on skills that improve the physical functioning of the body from head to toe including balance, vestibular processing, pain, strengthening, mobility, and much more. Physical Therapists take clients into stores and also have them walk on uneven surfaces to work on challenging balance, vestibular functioning, and sensory processing that requires clients to maintain focus, attention, balance, and gait -- all at the same time. Safety in the home and community are essential to increasing independence.
Speech and Language Pathologists (SLP) are able to look closely at executive functioning skills that help our clients minds work. They help by breaking down tasks, teaching strategies, and retraining the brain to improve functioning in many areas such as memory, attention, problem-solving, language and communication, organization, and much more. Our Speech Pathologists also help with feeding, swallowing, voice, aphasia, and are LSVT LOUD-trained for clients with Parkinson's disease. They specialize in early-onset dementia and age-related cognitive decline as well.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU HAVE A THERAPY REFERRAL
At Galaxy Brain and Therapy Center, our therapy evaluations will look and feel much different than the evaluations that might occur in a hospital setting or orthopedic clinic. We understand that each individual has unique deficits and concerns and we modify our evaluations to address the needs of the individual, without putting them through unnecessary testing.
Some individuals may require a full home safety assessment, physical assessment, vestibular assessment, as well as self-care or ADL (Activities of Daily Living) assessment, for example, while others may only need one or two of those aspects evaluated.
Our evaluations are very comprehensive and tell a story of who the individual was prior to the injury, their current level of functioning, and what goals are needed in order to help our client regain independence in those areas..
We understand that individuals may only tolerate a short interview or may be nervous to have a therapist in their home. They may also be overwhelmed being in a clinic setting (even though ours really does feel like a place where family gathers).
We will do our best to speak with potential clients prior to the appointment so that they feel comfortable. We understand that in some cases it takes multiple visits to complete portions of the assessment.
In general you will be asked to provide the following information:
- Identification and Insurance Cards.
- Physician Prescription for therapy services.
- Intake paperwork including but not limited to: Consent to Treat, Consent to Bill Insurance, HIPAA Acknowledgment, and Release of Information forms, etc.
- Our billing department will verify your insurance and will provide information on any co-payment, co-insurance, and deductible information that is accessible to us.
- Our Office Manager or Intake Coordinator will call you to schedule your initial evaluation.
- Follow-up appointments will be scheduled after the initial evaluation is complete.
We can’t wait to see your SMILING FACE! Our clients don’t always walk in with a smile, but it is rare when they don’t walk out with one. I recall seeing a client walk out of the elevator at our clinic, close her eyes, take a deep breath, and say, “I’m safe” as soon as she entered our Galaxy. We know you will feel the same way -- let us help you live your best life again!