Occupational Therapy month is coming to an end and we have two therapists left to introduce to the world! Our blog series on our OT team at Imago Rehab continues with the gracious and encouraging Micaela Galley.
Imago Rehab Spotlight: Micaela Galley, MOT, OTR/L
How did Micaela become an Occupational Therapist? I fully committed to an entry level OT Master’s program with less information about occupational therapy than I’d like to admit. However, it was the best decision I’ll ever make. My graduate year of occupational therapy school, I had to take an advanced neuro-rehab course with fieldwork. I was learning about how to change neural connections and motor function of one’s brain and body by assisting them in altering the way they think, adapting the environment, and providing the right cues and input. I was fascinated that OTs were able to change the way the brain was working from the outside without medication and without invasive procedures. I attended a service trip to Barbados where we worked in a shelter with women and children who had survived domestic violence. Our role was to facilitate group therapy sessions about things like women empowerment, mindfulness, and returning to work that had been designed by an OT capstone group. One of our women empowerment groups called for the participants to make collages in their journals out of words and pictures from magazines, which was going well and the women loved it! However, one of the women was completely blind from an accident and was very discouraged when trying to participate in this visually-demanding task. She said she felt upset that this was yet another thing she could not do since losing her vision. My OT friend and I assisted her. She guided the woman by explaining what was on the pages of the magazines so she could choose what she wanted and helped her rip it out. Then, I folded tape to attach it to the page so the images and words would pop out of the page so she could feel them. I will never forget how humbling it was to see this woman become empowered by what she had created when put in the right environment. By assisting her in using her senses of hearing and touch over vision, she was able to be successful and empowered, overcome a seemingly impossible challenge, and have a similar result as the other participants, despite her visual impairment. This was the first time I truly understood that I could make a lasting change in someone’s life with the education and experience I was getting as an occupational therapist. I don’t think I had ever felt so fulfilled by helping another person reach their goals. I felt so lucky that this is what I will be able to do for people for as long as I work and I knew I was in the right place.
Favorite OT story or moment: One of my favorite OT stories was working with a person who had had a stroke. All her doctors said she wouldn’t make any more progress this far past her stroke and would never gain back any function. After a few months of working together, she increased her movement scores tremendously and was able to use her arm to stabilize items like paper for cutting and bottles and containers for opening. These movements translated into functional use of her arm and gaining back skills she was told she would never have again. This story means a lot to me because it shows how persistence, hard work, and being given the right tools can push past bad statistics and result in a positive outcome.
Best OT lesson: My very first patient as an OT is one I’ll never forget. He had entered the facility I was working at with a hip injury after his seventh fall that year. During his evaluation I asked him why he thought he had so many falls and he said he didn’t know, and his doctors told him this happens as people get older, despite him being a very healthy and active person. I was not a big fan of that explanation. After getting a thorough intake, I learned that he had glaucoma. So, I checked his vision and found he had a significant deficit in his vision where he couldn’t see anything in front of him below his nose or on his sides. He told me he fell because he tripped over a curb that he didn’t see, which to me, made perfect sense because he doesn’t have vision there! I couldn’t believe it took seven falls and a fractured hip for someone to address his vision in everyday life. So for weeks we worked on walking while scanning his environment and planning movements by looking first at where he was going with the functional part of his eyes, in addition to all his other functional needs. This is an example of how OTs look at the WHOLE person to find the root cause of a person’s complaint or injury. The scope of OT crosses all body systems and movements that are involved with functional tasks. This taught me to always be thorough, ask follow up questions, and never skip a step, because it could mean helping someone prevent a repeat hospitalization or injury.
Are you ready to experience the Imago difference with our #lifeistherapyapproach?
Give us a quick call at 617-671-0789 or click today to get started working with Imago Rehab. Our blog series interviewing all of our OTPs will continue throughout April, as we celebrate our profession during Occupational Therapy month!