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CSM 2018 - Interview with Rory English, PT, DPT, GCS and Colleen Bowman, PT, DPT, GCS of Fox Rehab

by Brett Kestenbaum, PT, DPT

More than 17,000 people attended the APTA Combined Sections Meeting this year. That’s a ton of physical therapists! While we couldn’t possibly interview all of them, our NGPT team had the chance to sit down with a number of brilliant PTs.

If you’ve read our previous articles on Fox Rehabilitation, you’ll know that one of the major draws of the practice for new grad PTs is their killer mentorship program. Colleen Bowman and Rory English, both Fox Rehab PTs, explained some other things that go on behind the scenes at Fox.

“It can get a little murky there, to people that aren’t familiar with our practice,” Dr. English tells us when we ask him about the differences between what Fox Rehab offers and home health. “So, we are a Medicare part B outpatient practice . . . in the continuum, we usually interact with our clients after a home health episode, or we can also interact with them proactively, like you would — along the lines of your ATIs, your Novocares, that outpatient, clinical delivery model. We just bring that into the client’s home.”

This gives Fox Rehab therapists that ability to help their clients develop and practice their functional skills in the environments where they’ll be using them — a really important evidence-based practice.

“One of the things about home health is that you’re bound to that homebound status,” adds Dr. Bowman. “You’re working with the person within their home, and then once they are no longer homebound then you have to discharge. Whereas in outpatient, the way that we treat — you’re looking for that optimal function. Just with younger clients, you want to return to sport. With our geriatric clients, we want them to be optimally functioning, just like everybody else.”

What this means, English and Bowman tell us, is that Fox Rehab therapists can focus on returning their clients to their communities. “Functional decline’s not a normal part of aging,” Dr. English argues. But our current healthcare model for older patients is designed to train them to survive in their homes, but nowhere else.

“The nice thing about what we do is that we’re able to come in and work on those community level participation goals,” Dr. English says. “Can they go out to their place of worship? Can they go the grocery store? Can they interact with their family and resume the roles of grandparents, caregivers?” This is the kind of participation that Fox Rehab focuses on developing in clients.

“I worked with one client, and some of his goals were really high level,” Dr. Bowman says when asked about a powerful experience she’s had working at Fox. “He really loved gardening. That was his passion. And he had a hip fracture.”

This presented a challenge, but one that Dr. Bowman was excited to help her client meet. Together, they worked on the movements and tasks necessary for the client to return to his passion: “Getting up and down from kneeling, you know, things like that: carrying tools, being able to balance as he walked across uneven surfaces in the yard.” By the time the client was discharged, he was able to walk Dr. Bowman around his garden and tell her his plans for it, and the projects he was looking forward to taking on again.

“It was really rewarding to see,” Dr. Bowman says, and Dr. English agrees: “Yeah, that’s powerful stuff! You gave me goosebumps!”

“We had a resident that moved into our community out in Pennsylvania after a pretty serious health complication,” says Dr. English, who often practices in senior living. She had needed surgery after a fall, and had severe functional decline and a change in cognitive status. A team of OTs, PTs, and SLPs as well as an exercise physiologist worked with her intensely.

“We were able to rehabilitate her from requiring 24-hour, one-on-one assistance, due to safety concerns, back to her prior level of function, where she’s actually out in the community, she’s moved home, and is able to live with her son,” Dr. English tells us. “And the most powerful thing to me, is that — she was so motivated to get home, and spend time, and be able to walk her dog again. Something that we do every day that we take for granted. And she can do that now. Those types of impacts are why we do what we do.”

“When you say physical therapy,” Dr. Bowman says, “it makes me feel proud of our profession and what we do. I love my career and what I’m doing, and it’s very rewarding, and when you say that, that’s the feeling that I get.”

Make sure to sign up to receive updates from NGPT, and stay tuned for more coverage of the NGPT team’s trip to CSM!

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