Road to recovery

Most people don’t go to the hospital, or to work, for fun. However, the staff at the Boulder City Hospital Department of Rehab Services goes to work every day to have a good time.

Recently, therapists Aaron Somerholder and Dana Lyons sat down for a few minutes to explain why their job is so enjoyable. They say the department is in a change-and-expand mode now thanks to the recent expansion.

“We are in a position right now of doing all kinds of rehab from the point of injury through discharge and that doesn’t happen very often,” Somerholder said.

The rehabilitation department handles all types of therapies and is seeing more acute cases, they said. A large portion of those cases are amputees, which require extensive training for the staff.

Under the leadership of Shannon Shephard, who has been with the department for 10 years, the steady growth and ability to work one on one with the patients has created an atmosphere that is unique to this facility.

“Working hand in hand with the subacute facility, the staff can see patients after discharge all the way through the outpatient process and back to their regular lives,” Somerholder said.

With an operating kitchen and fully functional appliances, the department provides all levels of occupational, physical and psychological therapies. Occupational therapy, covering the basic skills after a stroke or injury, can be so easily overlooked until the person is ready to go home and resume a normal life, he said. Part of that training is relearning to use a stove or cook a meal, wash dishes or do laundry. Sometimes using various aids to help accomplish the task.

Lyons, who spent several years at University Medical Center in Las Vegas, says she “is thrilled to see the outcome of her cases and it is just so gratifying. This is the reason I became a therapist.”

Somerhalder, whose wife, Lindsay, grew up in Boulder City and graduated from Boulder City High School, began his career in private therapy practice and said he is “excited to see the surgery units opening soon.”

When asked what their most memorable cases were, both spoke of the same one:

A young lady who was injured in an automobile accident was not expected to survive. Now, however, she is getting sensation back in her upper body and is looking toward her law school studies and a future.

“Most health care professionals don’t get to know the people like we do,” Somerholder said. “We provide a comfortable environment to allow them to relax and concentrate on their care. Sometimes we can catch things which are missed in the exam room.”

The recent expansion of the department’s space allows the ability to provide multiple therapies side by side and sometimes the greatest boost is someone beside you who has gone through a similar situation, they said.

When the therapists are able to take a moment and talk, their caseloads being sometimes 10 or more in a day, they talk about their charges’ successes as if they were their own personal achievements. Lyons asked Somerholder, “Do you remember the 88-year-old person who came in using a cane or sometimes a walker and now is not using anything?”

A certain sense of camaraderie seems to permeate the department and a sense of triumph is enjoyed by even the smallest of achievements; sometimes just moving a finger or taking a step is all it takes to make the staff and patients get misty eyed and smile.

Like the person who was an amputee and confined to a wheelchair and finally got the chance to stand, these dedicated therapists enjoy life one step at a time.

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