RPI offers holistic approach to healing body and mind

Staff members of RPI, from left, Michelle Allen PT, Lauren Halloran, Shelley Kleinman PT, Devora Linzer SLP, Julie Lennon PT, and Robin Garfinkel OTR. (Not pictured: Jane Abbot PTA and Sharon Katz PT.)

The mind is often harder to heal than the body, but that never deters the physical and occupational therapists, and speech and language pathologists at Rehabilitation Professionals, Inc. , located on the ground floor of Park Plaza in West Rogers Park.

Serving patients from 15 to 100, staff at the Chicago office have to work on the mental approach to ensure their physical rehab can click.

“We’re teaching people how to take care of themselves,” said co-manager Shelley Kleinman, a physical therapist. “We had a woman in her 40s walk in, suffering from a herniated disc. She could not function and was bent over. It was limiting her social life because she didn’t like the way she looked.

“We deal with everything – a very holistic approach. We calmed down the muscles (around the disc), which were in spasm, to protect her body. When people aren’t treated properly right away, everything gets affected. We took the whole body and calmed it down.”

Co-manager Julie Lennon then picked up the narrative with a story of a senior with numerous physical disabilities who simply was overwhelmed with life.

“Her disabilities and life changes hurt her, and she had some poor organizational skills,” said Lennon. “She was able to come in for occupational therapy and learned some skills.  Occupational therapy can cover cognitive issues and activities of daily living, like dressing yourself.”

At RPI, therapists offer a top-to-bottom approach to patient care.

“We do a holistic look at the whole body and everything  social in a person’s life,” Lennon said. “If you’re treating someone for their wrist, you also have to look at their shoulder and their neck, and if it throws off their back. The physical therapist may be working on strength and range-of-motion, and is working together with the occupational therapist who is working on maybe adaptive equipment and ways to do things with the other hand.

“It’s encouraging people to self-manage their symptoms, feeling a sense of control. You don’t feel control when you’re in pain. If you have some tips and education, it helps. We work with people for 45 minutes to an hour each session. When you are expecting pain, it changes the way you do everything.”

RPI is not limited to Park Plaza residents or to seniors. The therapy center is open to the entire community. The facility has non-Jewish clients, too. RPI accepts Medicare and other insurance plans with the exception of HMOs. Other Chicago-area locations of RPI are in Morton Grove and Homewood.

Kleinman and Lennon are joined by physical therapist Sharon Katz, director of physical therapy Michelle Allen, occupational therapists Robin Garfinkel and Shari Feifel, speech and language pathologist Devora Linzer and office manager Lauren Halloran.

Specialties include orthopedic rehabilitation, chronic pain management, cognitive therapy, manual therapy techniques, neurological and stroke rehabilitation, pre/post-natal therapy, therapy for speech and swallowing problems, wellness programs and fall prevention/balance programs.

Park Plaza’s long hallways and outdoor grounds are used in therapy programs.

Some 88 clients are served in a typical week, including youth athletes.  “They come in for a rotator cuff tear, or knee strain or ankle sprain,” Lennon said. “Whatever their age, you’ll do a very thorough evaluation. You’ll look to see how they can avoid not re-injuring themselves again. It’s almost like doing detective work on their life.

“I recently had an older woman who was athletic and in great shape who thought it would be a good idea to run down the stairs. She sees in the paper it’s good to do stairs.  But for her, it wasn’t good to do stairs. That was the only thing flaring up her knee injury. Sometimes you just need someone to give you specific advice.”

The woman still did the stairs with rehabbed knees for an emotional grounding, but also was advised alternative exercises such as a bicycle.

In any given week, Lennon and colleagues will craft a customized physical – and mental – approach for patients. The moving parts of the body and mind are the daily gears of RPI.

RPI is located inside Park Plaza at 6840 N. Sacramento in Chicago. For further information or to schedule an appointment, call 773-381-3314.

–George Castle

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