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Director of therapy services helps residents improve their quality of life

Crystal Balthazar has a message for Wichita Presbyterian Manor residents: therapy works.

The director of therapy services works with a team from Aegis Therapies® to provide personalized physical, occupational aquatic and speech therapy services to the Presbyterian Manor community.

“(Residents) have to have that desire to be better,” Crystal said. “If not, it’s our job to encourage them and explain the benefits of the therapy. We can really help with quality of life between all the services we provide.”

What kind of therapy residents receive depends on their needs. Physical therapy generally focuses on lower-body strength and the skills it enables, like walking and balancing. Speech therapy deals with everything from cognitive issues like word finding to diet and swallowing. Occupational therapy focuses more on the upper half of the body and everyday skills. Occupational therapists also spend time evaluating a patient’s environment.

Aegis therapists work with residents at every level of care, so the services look different based on what the resident needs and what their goals are.

Crystal says that therapy for residents of independent living often focuses on balance, safety and addressing pain. For example, a resident who is having trouble opening and closing upper cabinets can receive help to increase the range of motion in their shoulder.

Assisted living residents receive care for the same reasons, but often therapy is targeted to help with everyday activities, such as getting dressed, walking and toileting. The aim is to prevent a decline in function that would mean the resident needs 24-hour care.

Therapists help memory care residents by creating visual cues that help them remember things such as the correct way to use their walker. A lot of repetition is involved, as residents may be able to retain some instruction.

Therapy for PATH (Post-Acute to Home®) residents focuses on rehabilitating the body, often after an injury or surgery.

“The man focus is getting them safe to go home, either with home health or family support,” Crystal said. One of the elements of providing therapy services for short-term residents is a home visit before discharge. A therapist will spend 45 minutes to an hour in the resident’s home, going through their daily routine and making adjustments to ensure they can safely navigate their home environment.

Fall prevention is a big focus for residents who require long-term care. A therapist will create a functional maintenance program for the resident, and a restorative aide on the Aegis team works with the resident six times a week to ensure that they maintain the gains they have made in therapy.

Whatever the circumstance, Crystal said some of the best advice she can give is to reach out when you notice something is becoming more difficult, whether that is walking, getting dressed or swallowing.

“It’s better to get therapy sooner rather than later,” Crystal said. The key is to know your own body well enough to notice when you’re experiencing a decline in function.

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