by Nathan Boddy
Bitterroot Valley residents in need of specialized rehabilitation can now find it closer to home. The recently opened Hamilton Neurorehabilitation and Balance Center adjacent to Hamilton Physical Therapy opened its doors in August and will host an official ‘Grand Opening’ on September 12th between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. The new facility is located at 336 Fairgrounds Road, immediately across from Hamilton High School. Co-owner of Hamilton Physical Therapy, Jackie Day, says that she and Doug Martin had been considering opening just such a facility for several years before deciding that the time was right.
“We need this in the valley,” says Day, pointing out that in the past, patients in need of this type of service had to either make the trip to Missoula or forgo treatment altogether. “Our population is growing, so we went for it.”
The new facility offers a wide range of rehabilitation services, assisting people in dealing with chronic conditions as well as injury. Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, spinal cord injury and concussion are just a few of the conditions whose side effects may cause difficulties in various aspects of daily life. The new Hamilton Neurorehabilitation and Balance Center aims to lift some of the burden of those conditions by offering speciality rehabilitation through Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy as well as Physical Therapy. Day describes the new Center as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for a variety of rehabilitation needs. “We are honestly so excited to provide this for people, to save them the trip to Missoula.”
Jackie Day started on her own path to becoming a Certified Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) after a sporting accident in high school. Learning about the human body and the way it can be positively affected by physical therapy intrigued her, and enticed her to chart the course which she has followed since. She worked as an aide to Doug Martin prior to undertaking her Doctorate in Physical Therapy at the University of Montana, and has added to her skills by becoming a Board Certified Neurologic Specialist (NCS) as well as a Certified Manual Physical Therapist (CMPT). Her location at the new Neurorehabilitation Center allows her to bring all of her skills together under one roof and join them with the skills of a multi-disciplinary team of specialists working at the new Center.
The Center, while also offering some of the traditional Physical Therapy space and equipment, also has a room dedicated as a ‘home environment’ with a bathroom, kitchen, shower and even a driving simulation. Specific exercises intended to rebuild people’s functionality in that setting constitute the Occupational Therapy side of the new Center. Occupational Therapist Chelsea Benitz is also available for in-home safety assessments to determine if and where specific aids like handrails, ramps, etc. may be of benefit to patients.
Day also says that there may be several clues that a person might need Speech Therapy, such as an increased aversion to social outings, or a decreased ability to be understood by others. Decreased cognition, memory and lessened ability to multi-task can be signs that Speech Therapy may be in order. These issues, along with the physical difficulties that someone might have doing even simple acts such as rolling over in bed, are things that Day says are easy for most of us to take for granted. Having access to quality rehabilitation, whether neurological, speech or occupational can make a big difference in someone’s life.
“We are honestly just here to help,” she says.