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PTA Blog Talk

Going Out

Published December 2, 2009 5:01 PM by Jason Marketti
Taking patients outside of the facility can be a great way to change their outlook on their rehab potential.  My first job in an acute care hospital I did just that. 

It was in 1996, before PPS and productivity was carefully scrutinized in the rehab field.  With the assistance of nurses, I managed to take a long-term ICU patient outside in the front of the hospital with five liters of oxygen running and a couple of  IVs attached to the wheelchair. We successfully managed the elevator and crowded hallways to sit outside for about 25 minutes. This may have been a pivotal point for both of us. 

He slowly improved and was moved to a regular unit and I realized the power of being outside of the hospital. Beyond the cold walls and sterile environment that make up a hospital or rehab facility, there are blue skies and sunshine. There is hope for those that see it. 

Weather permitting, I have consistently offered to patients the chance to go outside and get some "fresh air and sunshine." Some agree readily, others refuse. It is when they refuse I pull out my tools to encourage everyone to get out. I have brought a paint ball gun into work and did a group therapy session with it. It was a mess (I had to clean it up), but it was a success and got people outside and moving. They shot at targets, not each other so no one got injured. My BB gun target shooting worked just as well too. 

My next plan is to go shopping with a group. For those who cannot see a future outside of their own hospital bed or outside of playing Bingo with activities, take them outside and talk with them. We had a bench outside of an exit at one facility I worked at. I learned a lot about the history of the patients just sitting there enjoying the weather doing leg and arm exercises along with them.  


My first job I worked at a teaching hospital/medical university.  We had a burn unit that received patients from far and wide.  One of my pediatric clients was a little two year old who was stuck in his crib in a house fire.  His mom and sister were treated and released quickly, but the toddler took up residence.  He had burns over 90% of his body.  Only his face and the tip of his penis were unscathed.  Some details never leave you.  He was this mass of white gauze with a sweet cherub face and and two pools of the deepest chocolate eyes gazing up at you.  And the most contagious laugh.  

When he moved from the burn unit to the rehab unit, he was still my patient.  Not many therapists enjoyed patients with a "burn" diagnosis.  They missed out on this one.  He turned three on the unit.  And one day it hit me.  This little fella had been in the hospital without seeing the sun or feeling the fresh air for over three months!  A two/three year old deprived of the outside for more than three months!  I wan't a parent yet, but I knew he had to get outside.

I got permission from the facility and his parent, which even 20 years ago was a Herculean feat that included scaling mountains of paperwork and securing signatures in blood.  

Then we began our adventures.  At least once a month, sometimes twice, I'd take him on an outing.  We had a recreational therapist and she scheduled outings, but his special needs precluded him from going on those group trips.

So we made our own fun.  We went to the mall - just being in a normal environment was stimulating for him.  Back then Kaybee Toy Store was housed in the mall, so that was our destination.  He loved planes, so we went to the airfield and watched airplanes land and take off.  We just did normal things outside the clinic environment.  

I can't help but smile when I think back on those times.  Thanks for the memories, Jason!

Janey Goude December 3, 2009 12:15 AM

Sounds like your facility needs a recreational therapist!

Christie ,, December 2, 2009 7:07 PM

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About this Blog

    Jason J. Marketti
    Occupation: Physical Therapist Assistant
    Setting: San Jacinto, CA
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