Rush Physical Therapist Reflects on Vietnam Visit

Margot McCloy (left) with two patients and another physical therapist.

By Margot McCloy

My four weeks teaching physical therapy in DaNang, Vietnam, last January was a time of growth for the Vietnamese therapists and as well as for me. Living and traveling abroad while being a clinical instructor prepared me with the basics to teach PT in another country, but I still felt the culture shock.

I quickly turned to my teaching skills and assessed the therapists’ learning style, knowledge levels and interest so that I could be most effective. I did not want to impose my Western medicine upon their model of care; I wanted to shape my teaching model and let them decide what they wanted to take from the information I brought.

The first week I observed the flow of the clinic, which contained the spectrum of care from acute care to inpatient rehabilitation to outpatient. There were three wheelchairs shared by 10 patients and family and friends took turns transporting and helping each other. The therapist would demonstrate an activity with the patient, and then the patient and family member would carry out this activity for the next few sessions as the therapist made modifications. Much of the one-on-one time with the therapist was spent doing manual therapy. Continue reading

Life Without Legs: ‘I Will Overcome My Disability’

Rush patient Glenn Wheeler is chronicling his experience as a bilateral above-knee amputee on his blog, “Life Without Legs.” He shared this post with Rush InPerson.

Glenn Wheeler with his physical therapist, Christine Schauerte

By Glenn Wheeler

I have been a patient at Rush University Medical Center more times than I can count. I know all of the nurses and nursing assistants on eight north, all of the nurses and assistants at the Bowman Rehab Center (JRB), and most of the transporters who have been there any length of time, both at Rush and the Professional Building. Additionally, I know numerous physical therapists both at the inpatient and outpatient facilities and, last but certainly not least, everyone at the University Cardiovascular Surgeons offices.

My name is Glenn Wheeler, and I am 53 years old. I have been fighting the ravages of DVT coupled with a blood situation that has been described as hypercoagulabilty (my blood is inherently too thick). The result has manifested in many blood clots beginning in my right leg. Many of my trips to Rush involved dissolving these clots; sometimes it was successful, other times not. On those unsuccessful attempts at dissolving the clots, a bypass was the only answer. During the course of over 10 years I have had over 12 vein bypasses.

There is only so much that can be done. As the disease degenerates, eventually there is nowhere to bypass from or bypass to; such was my case.

In July 2008, I lost my right leg. I felt all the medical professionals involved in my case did their very best to save my leg. Unfortunately, this degenerative disease had run its course and nothing else could be done to save my leg.

In my opinion, I handled the loss of my right leg as well as anyone possibly could. I always strive to be optimistic in difficult situations, remaining positive and dealing with my life events head on. I was fitted with a prosthetic leg, and after much therapy and hard work, found my life back on track. Continue reading

Haiti Journal: Creating ‘Many Ripples’

By Katie Koren

I am a physical therapist who recently traveled to Haiti with a medical team from Rush University Medical Center. Let me introduce you to several of the Haitians I met:

A 76-year-old woman with cardiac problems and stroke history hobbled for 30 minutes with a stick so she could be seen by our medical team. When she walked, her posture was so kyphotic that her back was almost at a 90-degree angle with her legs. I asked her multiple times during her physical therapy session if she needed a break, and her only answer was no. She desperately wanted to learn to walk again.

Jackie is a 24-year-old interpreter who lost both of his parents in the earthquake and therefore can no longer afford to go to a university. He is saving his money by translating so one day he can go back to school.

Madame La Fleur managed an orphanage that was destroyed after the earthquake. She was relocated to a refugee tent camp with almost 100,000 other people. Her husband took her only biological child and relocated to the United States. She hasn’t heard from him since he fled. She is now living with 30 malnourished children in a refugee tent camp called Jerusalem. Continue reading