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PTA Blog Talk

I Need a Backpack

Published October 23, 2013 8:43 PM by Jason Marketti

The patient I went to see was agreeable to do therapy but wanted to take some things along to the therapy room. "No problem," I replied, "we can take whatever you want." As the patient handed me a tissue box, I assured her there was tissue available in the therapy room. A blanket came next and once again I told her they were available in the therapy room. A cup of water, a jacket, another blanket, and even a cushion followed.

I was supposed to carry these things to the therapy room for her while ensuring she was safe during gait. A suggestion of using a 4WW to carry all of this met with disdain. When I put some of the items in her wheelchair, she asked where she would sit if she needed to sit down suddenly.

I wanted to get my hobo stick out and have her tie everything in a neat bundle at the end and carry it herself but I kept my cool and put her cushion in the chair with the blanket draped over the back. I carried the cup of water in one hand and pulled the wheelchair behind me with the other hand. I kept a close eye on her to ensure she was safe with gait using her personal FWW.

Our chairs have cushions in them but she wanted her own wherever she sat down. Our blankets are on the linen cart just outside the rehab gym and we have cold water for anyone who wants to partake.

The facilities I've been in all have an endless supply of tissue boxes scattered throughout the department so I couldn't understand why this lady would want to bring all these items with her every therapy visit. Maybe doing so was a security blanket for her but it could also be unsafe if she were to suddenly lose her balance during mobility.

Maybe I should have stood my ground and told her, "No, we're not bringing all of that." She is the customer of therapy services but it made me wonder if prior to going into surgery, she'd ask the surgeon to hold her water, the anesthesiologist to carry her blanket and the nurse to carry and position the cushion under her.

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Patients come from all different life experiences. Creature comforts give us a sense of control over a very different environment. Some survivors of the Depression grew up to be "pack rats" for lack of a better description. We need to be aware of their needs while maintaining safe practice. A backpack hooked on to the back of the wc actually seems like a good idea! Your patient then can have her "supplies" close by, feel relieved, and ready to focus on all that you as a team have to accomplish in your therapy session.

Jeanne October 23, 2013 7:45 PM

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About this Blog

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