Healing Beyond Expectations: Physical Therapy at VCU Health N.O.W. Center
World Physical Therapy Day is Sept. 8, and this week at VCU Health’s Neuroscience, Orthopaedic and Wellness (N.O.W.) Center, patients and therapists shared some of the reasons physical therapy is important in their lives.
Corbin Cash said that in June, when he was recovering from a stroke and beginning physical therapy, one of his healthcare providers told him not to be too optimistic in expecting major mobility improvements before Christmas. At the time, he could barely move around his house without assistance.
By early September when we met Corbin at the N.O.W. Center, he was already driving himself to physical therapy appointments.
“This place just has an air to it. It just makes me want to do better and do more,” he said. “Coming in here and listening to the orders, it’s difficult sometimes, but it’s worth it. They’ve just saved my life. I really had very little life before I got here.”
Mary Beth O’Reilly, Corbin’s physical therapist at the N.O.W. Center, said when Corbin first started coming to see her he could barely stand on his own. When we saw him recently, he walked on a treadmill, stepped over obstacles on the floor and stepped on and off of a box with weight resistance around his waist.
“Corbin has been amazing,” Mary Beth said. “He’s really put in the work, and that’s been the nicest thing to see. We’ve been a good team.”
Comprehensive, Interdisciplinary Care at the VCU Health N.O.W. Center
Opened in 2016 just outside the Short Pump Town Center in Henrico County, the N.O.W. Center is a five-story building that includes 111,000 square feet, more than 80 exam rooms and plenty of parking.
Patients at the N.O.W. Center see specialists in neurology, neurosurgery, orthopaedics, rheumatology, sports medicine, endocrinology, physical medicine and rehabilitation and behavioral health. Patients regularly see specialists from multiple disciplines at the center, which is a product of the highly collaborative environment.
The physical therapists at the center treat patients who battle movement disorders, who have suffered brain injuries or strokes, and people who have undergone various surgeries.
“We serve as a team,” said Stephanie Ross, another physical therapist at the N.O.W. Center. “I work closely with not only our occupational therapists and speech pathologists, but with the doctors. We have open communication with all disciplines so we can better serve our patients. That open communication keeps patients safe and improves our ability to treat them.”
“Physical therapists are a key member of the interdisciplinary team,” said William O. McKinley, M.D., a VCU Health physician and professor in the VCU School of Medicine’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, whose patients go to the N.O.W. Center for physical therapy and other treatment. “They are highly skilled experts in musculoskeletal and neuromuscular conditions who evaluate and maximize mobility for patients with acute or chronic impairments.”
Stephanie told us the opportunity to maximize mobility is why she became a physical therapist — because it improves the quality of life of her patients.
“It’s been one of the best decisions of my life because I’ve seen patients go from not being able to stand or walk, to living life and being able to do what they love to do, whether it’s playing tennis or golf or playing with their grandchildren or children,” she said.
One of Stephanie’s patients, Lei Robinson, has been working with Stephanie for about a year. She said that because she has multiple sclerosis, her progress and physical abilities vary from some of the other patients, and that Stephanie has introduced her to helpful new ideas in adapting to the disease.
When asked what she would tell Stephanie on World Physical Therapy Day, Lei said, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’m very thankful for the education that everybody has here and the interaction between my physician and the therapist.”
Mary Beth said the progress she’s seen in her thankful patient, Corbin, is the reason she went into physical therapy.
“I love helping heal people,” she said. “A lot of the folks that come here are in need of our help for the things that we take for granted every day, so it’s really nice to try to get them back to where they want to be. This environment is really nice for being able to help people achieve the goals that they have, and not just what we want them to be able to do.”
Corbin, who was told to be careful in expecting major results before Christmas, was very thankful about the goals he’s accomplished since June, from standing on his own to driving again.
“It’s far before Christmas,” he said. “And things are looking good for me.”
For information about giving in support of the N.O.W. Center and other VCU Health facilities, visit our giving page, where you can learn about different ways to impact the lives of people in our community, including planned giving, major gifts, tributes and memorials and named endowed funds.