MCMC Physical Therapy Offers Innovative Option

8 Oct 2020 News

To celebrate Physical Therapy Month in October, MCMC’s PT department will be running weekly challenges for employees in the facility. Patients, both new and old, will be receiving a gift from the department as well.

Heidi Nielsen, PT, DPT, says that physical therapy at MCMC covers a wide range of services, something important for patients in rural areas. They include orthopedic and neurologic therapies. The combination of the services they offer and the ability to use the aquatic center for therapy is something they feel is a privilege to offer in a small town. Nielsen is also certified in dry needling and

LSVT-BIG for Parkinson’s treatments.

Nielsen says that when Dr. Tomjack starts seeing patients in Stanley in November, they believe they will see even more activity in their department, including sports medicine therapy.

The goal in the department is to open as many doors as they can for patients, helping them find healthy, normal function as they recover or rehab.

Husband and wife Nile and Christine Price have been in the PT department at MCMC since May and are under contract through December 18.  Although COVID has caused some decrease in physical therapy needs, they and Nielsen have kept busy and they expect that to increase. As more facilities have resumed surgeries, things have picked up and they expect it will continue to increase as Dr. Tomjack starts seeing  patients in Stanley.

Nile says that they love talking about the benefits of therapy and are quick to return calls. They believe there is always something they can do to help patients. He encourages patients to call them. They want to be a resource for the entire community and to help as much as they can.

Although most insurances are direct access, they do recommend that patients have a referral first before beginning therapy. That way they eliminate the unknown when it comes to billing and costs.

The department is also excited to have an Andago machine for physical therapy. They are currently only using the equipment for residents in the nursing home because of COVID, but once the restrictions are lifted they will be able to offer it for patients who have movement issue related to stroke, neurological problems, paralysis, spinal cord injuries and Parkinson’s disease to name a few.

This machine provides over ground body weight support and gait training, bridging the gap between treadmill and free walking. It follows the patient’s body, picking up on the movements and the way they move and turn. Therapists have the option to change settings so the machine will pick the pathways so the patient can focus just on their steps.

It adjusts completely to the patient using it. That includes how much body weight support is used with the ultimate goal to have the patient not need to use the weight support.

A state of the art machine, it eliminates the fall risk for patients as they walk. It stops and the harnesses will keep the patient up if they do lose their step. It takes the fear factor out of walking for the patient while also eliminating the burden on the therapist. It allows the patient to feel safe while providing them the opportunity to improve their gait.

It also fits through all standard doors in the facility, so there were no modifications needed to use it in the nursing home. Nielsen says it is very user friendly.

MCMC is the only rural facility to have the Andago and the only nursing home. Nielsen says the next closest machines would be at Craig in Denver or in Kansas. The majority of the machines can be found in large rehab facilities on the east or west coast.

Funding for the equipment came from donations, including a significant donation from one family, and the Mountrail County Health Foundation. Hocoma, the company that manufactures it, sent it in expedited shipping without any additional charge.  Nielsen says the Swedish machine, made in Switzerland, was flown over and arrived in March. When it arrived, it rolled out of the box, with PT only having to attach the handles to prepare for use.

Hocoma is watching MCMC and how they are using this machine in a nursing home, helping keep geriatric patients mobile. Nielsen says that it is helping lessen the burden on therapy and the staff as they help residents be as mobile as they can be for as long as they can be.

At the end of October, MCMC will be participating in a webinar with Hocoma, sharing with other doctors and facilities how the machine is being used in Stanley. Pairing with company therapists, they will be sharing the benefits, including reducing the impact on joints with the weightbearing assistance.