Happy rehab patient benefits from expert therapy care

Occupational therapy continued through pandemic to heal shoulder from surgery

Occupational therapist Michaela McCaskell at her desk with beach balls on a table behind her.

Earl “Mac” McArthur, 76, had rotator cuff surgery on March 11 this year. He never imagined how everything would shut down five days later because of COVID-19.

Fortunately, he chose to do rehabilitation therapy for his shoulder at Good Samaritan Society – St. Martin Village, which has remained open in Rapid City, South Dakota, during the pandemic.

McArthur based his decision on several criteria, including the experience of the team at St. Martin Village, the location close to his home, its cleanliness and the extra safety measures in place due to COVID-19.

“They were right there ready to go,” McArthur said. “It worked out well.”

Because of the coronavirus, patients can’t bring a family member with them to therapy sessions. They are also screened each time they enter the building and are required to wear a mask and use hand sanitizer.

Slow and steady healing

After making his decision, McArthur started 14 weeks of occupational therapy three days a week with Michaela McCaskell, an occupational therapist at St. Martin Village.

McCaskell says when a person does rehab, they need to worry about quality over quantity and be prepared to practice patience.

“It’s not going to be a magical experience where things instantly go away. It takes effort, time and motivation,” McCaskell said.

McArthur said McCaskell never made him do anything he couldn’t do, but she encouraged him to keep progressing.

During his sessions, McArthur remembers McCaskell using the phrase “stretching discomfort.” She’d ask him how much “stretching discomfort” he could take, while making sure he didn’t experience any sharp or burning pain.

McArthur enjoyed working with McCaskell and the other staff members.

“The therapy I received from Michaela was professional, thorough and focused on getting my shoulder healed and functional,” he said.

As an active retiree, McArthur felt the hardest part was making time for his weekly sessions. Fortunately, he and his wife live in a twin home on the St. Martin Village campus, making the appointments convenient.

Successful recovery

In between sessions, McArthur worked on the home exercises McCaskell gave him.

“I really had to emphasize the importance of not pushing too hard,” said McCaskell.

As an occupational therapist, McCaskell focuses on treating a person holistically. That includes helping them gain strength and flexibility while addressing the emotional aspect of their recovery.

“We want to see people happy and productive outside of this building,” she said.

McArthur has now completed therapy and says his shoulder is at about 90 percent recovered.

“I’ve told everybody I know that if they are looking for therapy as a result of an injury or surgery, they definitely need to talk to St. Martin Village because they’re great,” he said.

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Posted In Allied Health, Coronavirus, Rehabilitation & Therapy, Senior Services