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Rehab Olympics


The Center for Rehabilitation Medicine at Dignity Health Northridge Hospital Medical Center is comprised of a multi-disciplinary team dedicated to treat people who have suffered any major disabling condition from brain injury, stroke, multiple trauma, neurological disorders, or sports injuries to help them regain their abilities and independence.

The rehabilitation team strives to present their values of dignity, collaboration, justice, stewardship, and excellence towards their patients on a daily basis. There are many times throughout the years where these values are exhibited all at once. The Rehab Olympics is one of those times.

At a time when the world celebrates the Olympics and the Paralympics, the Rehabilitation Unit at Dignity Health Northridge Hospital will host their own games. The Rehab Olympics is a collaborative event organized by the Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Recreation Therapy, and Nursing departments where the current inpatients and therapists participate in teams to compete in games led by the individual therapy departments. Each game is designed as a therapeutic modality to achieve individual treatment goals pertaining to balance, coordination, safety, problem solving, recall, endurance, word finding, and social interaction. The games allow patients to exhibit the improvements and gains they have achieved in their therapies while also offering them the opportunity to challenge themselves. There have been many patients who have stated: “I didn’t think I could do it until I did it.”

The Rehab Olympians are divided into four teams and will be competing in games by therapy departments with cleverly incorporated Olympic themes. Each team will be playing a game in one of the four stations available to them and rotate to the next station as each game is completed. Each station is led by a rehab service. The Occupational Therapy department devised the Kitchen Slalom where teams will work together in a timed event to achieve the most points in reaching, grabbing, bending for items around the kitchen while utilizing proper body mechanics, safety judgment, problem solving, and adaptive equipment. The Speech Therapy department will test the Olympians’ mental strength and flexibility in a game of Verbal Gymnastics through word descriptions, word finding, and word association. In Bed Pan Shot Put, the Nursing department has the players either stand with assistance or lean forward in their wheelchairs while throwing items into nursing care equipment for varying point values. Physical Therapy will put the athletes through the PT Physical Triathlon involving balance, endurance and safety in gait or wheelchair mobility. The team will work together in a relay fashion to achieve the fastest time in gathering flags, maneuvering through obstacles, and throwing bean bags through the Olympic rings.

Safety and achieving therapeutic goals are still key in the Rehab Olympic games. Therapists offer assistance as needed for each athlete whether it is hand-over-hand assistance in picking up objects or modified assistance in walking around obstacles. Therapists are also utilized as extra teammates as needed. They are given their own diagnosis and patients are encouraged to assist their therapist/teammate in any way they can.

The Center for Rehabilitation Medicine has hosted the Rehab Olympics for over 20 years. “The Rehab Olympics invigorate the patients and the staff,” states Dr. Thomas Hedge, rehab physiatrist. “The mood of the whole unit is lighter and filled with a sense of pride and accomplishment as everyone works together to achieve a goal. It’s a great event that not only empowers our patients, but it also gives a sense of comradery and teamwork in our staff. That’s what our rehab is all about: empowering our patients and working within a dedicated rehab team.”

LOCATION: The Rehab Olympics are held on the 4th floor of the Institute for Living at Dignity Health Northridge Hospital. The event starts at 1pm with Opening Ceremonies leading off the events at 1:15. Closing ceremonies are at 3:15pm at the 5th floor Penthouse where snacks and awards will be presented to the Rehab Olympians. Below is a schedule of events.

The games are held in a clockwise fashion. At 1:15, each team will start at their designated game station, the rotate to the next until all four stations have been completed. The teams will meet at the Penthouse at 3:15 for closing ceremonies.

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