When 70-year-old George Lockamy, a stroke survivor from Spartanburg, S.C., was asked what occupational therapy meant to him, he became emotional. Especially when talking about his therapist, Carolyn Politi from Spartanburg Rehabilitation Institute.
“I was so frightened when I first got to the hospital, but Carolyn knew exactly how I felt,” Lockamy says. “I was so limited in what I could do. Carolyn’s compassion, patience, and smile helped me reclaim my independence.”
Lockamy, who suffered a stroke in September 2014, was paralyzed on his left side. When he entered Spartanburg Rehabilitation Institute, he couldn’t dress or bathe himself. After four weeks of inpatient rehabilitation and six months of continued outpatient therapy, Lockamy is able to walk independently and is back home in his role as a husband and father.
Politi, who has been an occupational therapist for seven years, says it’s her passion to see patients like Lockamy progress and be able to perform activities of daily living.
“We provide occupational therapy to help patients develop, recover, or maintain daily living and work skills,” she says. “We always start with patients’ goals to determine what they want to accomplish. Once we know what they want to be able to do, we create individualized treatment plans to help the patients reach those goals.”
At Spartanburg Rehabilitation Institute, occupational therapists are part of an interdisciplinary team treating the patient. The team includes physicians, nurses, physical therapists, speech therapists, and other healthcare professionals.
Occupational therapy is essential to a patient’s recovery, according to Politi. “The better prepared a patient is at being able to complete daily tasks at home, the more complete the healing process will be,” she says.
Such was the case with Lockamy, who learned how to walk and perform daily tasks.