By Amye Anderson
UCBJ Managing Editor
COOKEVILLE – It’s one of the fastest growing career fields, according to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Statistics. The projected percent change in employment for physical therapists, from 2016 to 2026, is 28 percent; compared to the average growth rate for all occupations which stands at 7 percent. Occupational therapists and physical therapy aides are also in high demand these days.
The outpatient rehab facility at Cookeville Regional Medical Center sees more than 500 patients, and a variety of diagnoses, each week. CRMC’s outpatient rehab center offers physical, occupational, and speech therapies for patients ranging from children just a few weeks old to seniors in their nineties.
“We’re growing. We’re literally running out of space,” Shona Davis-Smith, CRMC’s therapy services director, said of the pediatric therapy wing. “We’ve become very creative on how to create more room for these little-bitties (infants and young children) that are coming in here.”
A larger gym and free play area for the younger patients remains on the facility’s wish-list.
“We need a gym for them to romp around in,” Davis-Smith said. “Hopefully, one of these days, I would love to see that continue to grow.”
“I think we’re really different from a lot of other clinics because we do have a big pediatric department here, which is a whole wing,” she added.
Those younger patients attend therapy for everything from handwriting to helping them meet their developmental milestones. Older patients, on the other hand, typically need assistance recovering from traumatic brain injuries, repetitive motion and arthritic injuries, and accidents. In fact, the center recently began hosting a stroke support group to provide another layer of care for patients recovering from the debilitating effects of a stroke.
“There’s still a need, a huge need (for a stroke support group),” Davis-Smith said.
Patients who seek care for a stroke or other injury as an inpatient at CRMC can continue their recovery journey once they are discharged from the hospital by attending therapy at the outpatient center.
“To keep that patient here with us at CRMC, I feel like that we can see them through their care better like that,” Davis-Smith said. “We know from day to day where they started from – ground zero – and where that patient wants to go.”
The ultimate goal is to get patients feeling normal again; hopefully better than before. A staff of 60 or so, comprised of physical therapists, rehab techs, schedulers, and coordinators keep the facility running smoothly, caring for hundreds of patients of each week.
A spacious gym area, with weight lifting and aerobic equipment, a variety of pain relieving modalities, plus machines capable of isokinetic and functional capacity testing are all available. The center provides physical therapy and occupational therapy, as well as a private pediatric and speech therapy treatment areas.
“We have people driving all over the region to come here for therapy,” Davis-Smith said.
The CRMC Outpatient Rehab Center is located at 215 W. 6th St. in Cookeville. To learn more about CRMC or the outpatient rehab facility, visit www.crmchealth.org or call (931) 783-2900.