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National OT Month

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Hospital news

Diana Wilburn, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA), Arturo Mendiola, Occupational Therapist (OT) and Perla Morin, Occupational Therapy Technician (OTT).

April is National Occupational Therapy Month

The month of April (aside from being National Autism Awareness Month) is Occupational Therapy Month. Occupational Therapy is a rehabilitative service which supports assisting children and adults in gaining compensatory mobility in order to improve quality of life and promote independence. “We help re-train the brain,” says OT Arturo Mendiola, “Anyone who has had a stroke, a serious injury or has congenital anomalies can be helped by occupational therapy.”

Val Verde Regional’s Institute for Therapeutic Medicine offers both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitative services to all ages. Whether it is physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy or wound care, the Institute offers the necessary services for recovery.

Occupational Therapy is frequently about compensatory training. For example, one young patient has a congenital anomaly in which she was born without hands. Through Occupational Therapy, she has learned to do daily living activities by using what she does have in a different way. Recently, the OT team found a prosthetic device that allows her to actually feed herself for the first time in her twelve years of life. OT is a big deal. This is not the only story of overcoming obstacles and re-learning how to do things in a new way.

“Every day we have people who we help in amazing ways,” says COTA Diana Wilburn, “We give people hope and build their confidence as they improve their skills.” Diana works mostly with pediatric patients. She loves interacting with all kinds of children and their families. She is looking towards receiving additional sensory training which will allow her to better serve patients diagnosed with autism. Her passion for occupational therapy came to her at a young age. “I have three cousins who had special needs. I helped my aunt with their care and interacted with the physical therapist who came to help them. I decided that was what I wanted to do.” She has been fortunate to work with people who have willingly shared their OT knowledge with her. She also learns a lot from her patients and their families.

Art Mendiola has his own story. “I had a severe injury to my arm when I was in the military. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to play my guitar and the doctor told me I wouldn’t play again. Then, when I saw the therapist, she assured me I would play again and I’m still playing.”

Perla Morin, OTT supports the department by interacting with patients and helping to keep track of paperwork. Although she did not say so herself, Arturo chimed in, “She is so great with the patients. She has natural ability in interacting with people.”

It is stories like these that give these occupational therapists such passion for what they do. It is obvious in the way their whole faces light up when they speak about helping patients. And they help a lot of patients. “There are no occupational therapists in Eagle Pass or Carrizo Springs,” says Mendiola, “People come all that way to get help and we provide the best individualized experience for every single one of them.”