outpatient therapy Archives - Lakeview Village

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Speech Pathologist Enjoys Challenges of Career
Speech Pathology is a Calling

Speech Pathology is a true calling for Michelle Hilger.

Michelle Hilger is one of Lakeview Village’s on-site speech pathologists. In honor of Better Hearing and Speech Month, we sat down with Michelle to learn more about speech pathology and how it helps enrich lives.  

Searching for a Career

When Michelle Hilger arrived at Kansas State University, she was searching for the next, right step. Accordingly, she enrolled in a career and life planning class, where she completed an assessment that, through a series of questions, would point her (she hoped) to a worthwhile career path. Speech Pathologist was at the top of the list.

Armed with this new information, Michelle had a conversation with her father. In his youth, her father had a stutter and worked with a speech therapist. He told Michelle that his therapist was an inspiration. After a little more soul-searching (and job shadowing), Michelle decided to pursue speech pathology.

Finding a Calling as a Speech Pathologist

Now working as a speech pathologist, Michelle hasn’t looked back.

Recently, she met a patient who couldn’t swallow. His dysphasia was so pronounced, that he was getting all of his nutrition from a feeding tube.

“Food was important to him; when he couldn’t eat, he lost pleasure (from eating) and his social life suffered,” Michelle said. “His spirits were low.”

The pair worked and worked and worked. One day, the patient walked in waving a paper in the air exclaiming, “I passed, I passed!”

One the piece of paper was a note saying that he had passed his video swallow and would be able to eat again.

Speech pathology isn’t just for people who need to re-learn to swallow. Michelle assists with all aspects of communication – including teaching patients how to adapt their environments to help cope with memory loss. Michelle has created cards for patients to carry listing their address, so when they ride the Lakeview Village bus, they always remember where to get off. She also makes signs to hang on the back of doors, prompting patients to make sure they have their glasses and keys before they leave their homes.

While some memory loss is normal with aging, Michelle cautions that dementia is not. Thankfully, Michelle has a lot of tips and tricks to keep communication going, even as patients encounter new challenges.

“I worked with a woman who was very emotional about losing her independence,” Michelle said. “She had such a drive to be involved in social activities, but she would get embarrassed if she couldn’t remember a word and had started to withdrawal.”

Michelle told her to just describe the word she was searching for, instead of pausing while she tried to recall it. At her next appointment, the patient told Michelle that the new strategy was working wonderfully.

“She gave me a hug and said, ‘I’ll always remember you.’”

Innovations in Speech Pathology

Like most occupations today, Speech Pathology is getting a boost from mobile technology. There are smart phone apps that work as memory aids, and some that will even track your volume levels. This new technology is helping people to communicate longer, even in the face of neurological factors, which fascinate Michelle who is certified in LSVT Loud, a program that helps combat the effects of Parkinson ’s disease.

While technology and adaptive tips and tricks will help older adults communicate better, the motivation of the patient plays a critical role in the success of therapy.

“I like to find out their story, what motivates them and what (the patient’s) goal is, so that I can help them achieve that goal in some form,” Michelle said.

Michelle reports that work as a speech pathologist is never boring. She is constantly learning and is given a variety of challenges to tackle. While she initially thought she would work with children, perhaps in honor of her father’s therapist, Michelle says she is much more comfortable working with adults.

“(Adults) intrigue me more, and I connect better with adults,” Michelle said. “Working with adults felt more like home.”

 

Occupational Therapy Offers Solutions to Daily Challenges

Tools help seniors with personal careApril is national Occupational Therapy month, and the outpatient therapy department at Lakeview Village has planned activities throughout the month to educate our community on occupational therapy and its role in helping seniors live active lives.

What is Occupational Therapy?

When we hear the word ‘occupation,’ many of us immediately think of a job. If you’re retired, why would you need “job” therapy? Occupational therapy refers to any meaningful everyday activity you perform, including those that help you manage your home and personal care. If pain, injury, disease or any other factor are keeping you from your goals, activities or independence, consider occupational therapy.

Do you or a loved one have:

• Trouble reaching into closets or cabinets?
• Numbness/pain in your hands – especially after sleeping?
• Difficulty writing or eating?
• Tremors that interfere with daily tasks?
• History of a stroke and haven’t gotten back full use of your arm or hand?
• Arthritis?
• Macular degeneration?
• Decreased or low vision?
• Trouble with fasteners on clothing or objects?

Lakeview Village occupational therapists can work with you to help you reach your maximum potential. The outpatient therapy team practices person-centered care. That means our occupational therapist will work to help you reach the goals that are important to you.

Help managing Parkinson’s Disease

Lakeview Village occupational therapists are trained in the LSVT BIG® treatment program for those with Parkinson’s Disease. This innovative program has increased amplitude (bigness) of limb and body movement that translated to improved speed and balance for those who received therapy. Participants also enjoy increased independence and a better quality of life.

Occupational Therapy is available to Lakeview Village residents and to the Kansas City community at large. Once you are referred by your physician or have requested therapy services, your appointment will be scheduled within 48 hours. Your therapist will complete an evaluation and develop an individualized plan of care. We accept Medicare, private insurance, Worker’s Compensation, and private pay. Prior to your first visit, our staff will assist you with insurance verification and coverage questions.