RIC Matters 2014-09-24 - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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RIC Matters 2014-09-24

Quote of the Week

"Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential.”

Winston Churchill

Back Issues

To find previous issues, go to our Index of RIC Matters back issues.


Former Spinal Cord Injury Patients Share Stories of Hope, Inspiration

Former RIC patients Mark Stephan and Jim Mullen, who both sustained paralyzing spinal cord injuries, brought a message of hope, inspiration and a little humor to those facing similar disabilities.

Their message: life is not over. It’s just going to be different.

Stephan and Mullen shared their stories as part of a special event for Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month, organized by the LIFE Center at RIC and the SCI Team.

Mullen, a former Chicago police officer, was shot in the cheek and spine while on duty in 1996. He was instantly paralyzed and is dependent on a respirator to breathe. During his recovery, Mullen spent four months at RIC.

“It’s been a long road and an interesting life,” Mullen said. “I will tell you there’s a good life after being injured. Your life is not over. I’m still a father, a husband and a friend. I’m blessed that I’m surrounded by wonderful people.”

Not one to remain idle, Mullen has worked on several business ventures, including his latest and most successful, “Mullen's Chicago's Finest Apple Sauce.” Mullen re-created his mother’s recipe to bring gourmet applesauce to the market, and it is now available in more than 600 stores.

“I’ve tried a lot of things over the years. I like to stay active, I like to stay involved,” he said.

Mullen uses voice recognition software to work on a computer, which allows him to do anything a user of a computer would do -- from research to creating documents to sending emails. “In cyberspace, there are no barriers,” he said. “We are all equal.”

Stephan also has not let his disability stand in the way of living a full life. Stephen fractured vertebrae of his spinal cord and was paralyzed from the neck down as the result of a bicycle accident in 2007. During his rehabilitation at RIC, Stephan learned to walk again.

But that was just a first step. “When I left here, it was the scariest day of my life,” he says.

Stephan labored hard to work on his physical rehabilitation and become engaged once again in his passions. Since leaving the hospital he has taken a bicycle journey across the country and three times completed RIC’s annual SkyRise Chicago event, climbing 103 flights of stairs to the top of the Willis Tower.

“You will be shocked at how much you can do,” he said. “Never give up.”

Both men talked about having good days and bad. “Time heals a lot of things,” Mullen said. “Everything gets better every day. You just have to believe in yourself.”

“Every once in awhile I get down,” Stephan admitted. “I allow myself that. Don’t be afraid to have a bad day every once in awhile. But don’t dwell on it.”

Mullen and Stephan said the support they received at RIC, along with the support of friends and family, went a long way in helping them adjust to their new lives with spinal cord injuries.

“Welcome to the club,” Mullen said to the patients in the room. “Nobody ever plans on being disabled. At any moment, anyone else can join this club. But it’s okay. You can do anything. After 18 years, I’m still the person that I was.”

Lauren Spehr Honored with Prince Family Esprit! Award

Lauren Spehr, a Child Life Specialist on the 5th floor, was honored last week with the Prince Family Esprit!  Award for her compassionate work with children and their families at RIC.

In a nominating letter Jennifer Schmidt, Spehr’s manager, recognized Spehr “for always being so focused on our patients and families’ well-being.” She also wrote that Spehr “was mentioned by name on a patient feedback form for ‘picking us up from the lowest moment of our stay.’” 

Spehr, who has been with RIC since 2012, says she is simply doing a job she loves. “I have always wanted to work with children and working at RIC has been such a wonderful experience,” she says. “I work with a lot of highly skilled people here and amazing patients.”

In her role, Spehr helps children and their families navigate through some of the toughest of times. “My job is to help kids cope with being in the hospital,” she says. “That can be through emotional support, through peer support or various activities.”

The Esprit! Award, sponsored by the Prince Family Esprit! Program at RIC, helps staff recognize colleagues who demonstrate our Core Values and who surpass goals, exceed expectations, or volunteer to assist others beyond regular job duties.

Spehr received her award from Peggy Kirk, SVP, Chief Clinical Operating Officer; Dr. James Sliwa, SVP, Chief Medical Officer and  and Lois Huggins, SVP, Chief Human Resources Officer. “I was very surprised and touched that they came to our meeting. I had no idea this was coming,” Spehr says.

Researcher’s Poster Presentation Most Popular at International Conference

Congratulations to RIC researcher Reva Johnson, a PhD candidate at Northwestern University, whose poster presentation was honored as the most collected at the 36th Annual International Conference of Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS).

The conference, which was held in Chicago last month, drew participants from around the world. It covered diverse topics such as biomedical and healthcare technology research, clinical applications and biomedical education.

Johnson’s poster presentation was titled, “The Effect of Powered Prosthesis Control Signals on Trial-By-Trial Adaptation to Visual Perturbations.” Johnson said her research focuses on investigating how prosthesis users plan, generate and adapt movements, using a sensory motor adaptation framework.

“The knowledge gained from these experiments will help us understand how an amputee's brain makes decisions and how we can best improve prosthesis control and feedback systems,” she said.

Patient Peer Visitors Offer Insights at Robotics Panel Discussion

Last week, RIC hosted a panel discussion that brought together patients who use assistive technology with clinicians and roboticists.

The panel was part of a daylong workshop called “Rehabilitation and Assistive Robotics: Bridging the Gap Between Clinicians and Roboticists,” which was part of the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems held in Chicago earlier this month.

The workshop offered an opportunity for top robotics researchers from around the world to hear from the patients, therapists and clinicians at RIC about how advances in robotics technologies can be leveraged to help modify existing, or entirely revolutionize assistive devices.

The panel was organized by the LIFE Center at RIC and Brenna Argall, an Assistant Professor of Rehabilitation Robotics at Northwestern University, and RIC Research Scientist.

Three RIC peer visitors took part in the panel discussion, including Jim Mullen, Viva Henson and Evette Griffin. Brad Schwartz, who is training to be a peer visitor, also participated in the discussion. Shea Ako, whose son is an RIC patient, was also on the panel.

Lisa Rosen, Manager, RIC LIFE Center, said that the patient participants had a powerful impact on those who attended the panel discussion by offering first hand information about using assistive technology. Their stories and insights, Rosen added, will play an important role in future research and can make a difference in the quality of lives for individuals with disabilities, their families and the community.

Food Service Goes Green with Composting

In an effort to be more environmentally conscientious, RIC’s Food Service has teamed up with a Chicago nonprofit that is putting food waste to good use through composting.

The Resource Center’s Food to Farm Composting collection service helps the environment by converting the hospital’s food waste into nutrient rich compost that is used for growing food.

Food service staff now separates food waste from other garbage in special bins that are collected each day and later distributed to area farms and gardens as compost.

“It’s the right thing to do for the environment and for sustainability,” says Katie Hartoin, Director,  Food & Nutrition Services. “It’s good to know that this waste is going somewhere for something important.”

Voter Registration in RIC Lobby on Thursday

Equip for Equality will conduct another voter registration drive in the lobby of the flagship building this Thursday, September 25, for those who need to register to vote for the first time or are required to change their address because they moved.

Equip for Equality will conduct the registration between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Please bring two forms of identification, including one that matches your voting address. For more information, contact the LIFE Center at 312-238-5433.

For more information about patient voting rights while in a hospital or in a nursing home, click here. To learn about the procedures for patient voting, click here.

RIC Insider


Magnuson Awards and Family Picnic is This Saturday!

The excitement is building for Saturday's RIC Family Celebration Picnic and Magnuson Awards. The event will be held at the UIC Picnic Grounds, 800 W. Maxwell St. (corner of Maxwell and Halsted) from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

The picnic and Magnuson Awards presentation will be held in tents. After the buffet picnic and presentation, there will be lots of fun and outdoor activities for all ages, so wear sensible shoes.

Jeans and casual attire are not only permitted, but encouraged! We will have access to a softball diamond, and we encourage employees to challenge their colleagues to a game of softball or baggos. 

So far, the weather forecast looks delightful: sunny and in the 60s/70s. Don't forget the sunscreen, hat and appropriate gear.

RIC employees and families will have free parking available in the garage located on Maxwell Street, just east of Halsted. The free parking is only available in that garage. A parking voucher will be given to you at check-in.

For more details about the event, including directions, please click here.

Webinar to Address Accessible Outcomes Measurement for People with Disabilities

What: Measure-ABLE, a webinar sponsored by the Center for Rehabilitation Outcome Research (CROR) supported by a grant from the Department of Education, NIDRR grant number H133B090024 (PI: Allen Heinemann, PhD).

When: September 29, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Description: There is increasing emphasis in disability and rehabilitation research and practice on the use of outcomes measures to promote clinical decision making, evaluate treatment effectiveness, and determine service allocation.  Design features of many standardized outcome assessments pose barriers for users with disabilities and can compromise the validity and interpretability of the derived scores.  During this Webinar, we will discuss the importance of accessible measures and describe an approach to evaluate and enhance the development of accessible outcome measures.  We will draw from our experience in three large scale instrument development projects.

Objectives: At the conclusion of this course, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe how factors at the human-computer interaction create barriers to outcomes assessment for people with disabilities.
  2. Discuss how inaccessible measurement compromises the validity, reliability and interpretability of outcome measures.
  3. Identify strategies to evaluate and enhance accessibility of outcome measurement systems.

Cost: Free (First come first served)

To Register: (this link takes you to SurveyMonkey) https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8D5SKML

About our Speakers: Susan Magasi, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Department of Occupational Therapy. Her research emphasis is on healthcare access and equity for people with disabilities, including access to measurement technologies and assessment systems. Mark Harniss PhD is a Clinical Associate Professor in the University of Washington’s Department of Rehabilitation Medicine. His research focuses on the design, development, usability, and effectiveness of instructional and assistive technologies, knowledge translation and implementation science and accessible measurement.  Both have served as a co-investigators and co-chairs of the Accessibility Committees for several major NIH-funded instrument development initiatives including the NIH Toolbox Assessment for Neurological and Behavioral Function and the National Children’s Study. 

Still Time to Register for SkyRise Chicago, Employee Training Continues on Mondays

New to RIC?  Never participated in SkyRise Chicago?  SkyRise Chicago Wants You! Heidi Aschbacher, Administrative Coordinator for SkyRise Chicago, is putting together a team of first time climbers. If you are interested in joining this team, named “The First Climb’s the Charm,” please email Heidi at haschbac02@ric.org

For those of you who already have signed up or are planning to sign up, join us to train for SkyRise Chicago 2014.

Stair climb training is on Mondays from 5:00 p.m. to 5: 45 p.m. with a final session on Monday, October 27. Meet in the flagship hospital lobby and climb in the stairwells with your RIC colleagues and a representative from the RIC Fitness Center. It’s fun and will help you prepare.

For information about stair workouts, contact Maggie Morrissy at mmorrissy@ric.org or (312) 238-5001.

Hand cycle train with the RIC Hand Cycling Team and other athletes on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the  RIC Fitness Center at 541 North Fairbanks starting September 23, with a final session on October 30. Interested parties should contact Derek Daniels at ddaniels@ric.org or (312) 238-5001.

No matter which method you’re training for, all levels are welcome! There’s no need to register in advance. Join at any time, and participate whenever you can.

Rehabilitation Measures Database (RMD) at RIC Getting Facelift

Over the past three years, the RMD has grown beyond expectations. Every month more than 80,000 users from around the globe access the RMD. The response has been tremendous, but it also means we’ve outgrown our current home!

Over the next several months, we will be working with our developers to design a new database with many new and enhanced features. As part of this process, we are asking users to tell us how they are using the RMD and how we can make the site better.

Please take 10 minutes to make your voice heard! You can access the survey here.

Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to launching a new RMD in the months to come.

Call for Submissions for 2015 HBB Competition – Deadline September 30

It’s time again for the annual Henry B. Betts, MD, Innovation Award Competition. We are changing the format to create a special challenge with a focus on our new Ability Institute. The challenge this year is to create a unique “after hours” space for patients and families. All employees are invited to submit ideas.

For a full description of the competition rules, please click here. Ideas should be submitted to Liana Davila (ldavila@ric.org) or to your manager. Submission forms can be found on RIC Connect.  Ideas will be accepted through September 30.

 Questions about available spaces listed above can be directed to your manager, department Vice President, Laura Ferrio or Barry Fleischer.

Mandatory TB Testing Notification

Annual TB screenings for staff working at the flagship hospital and Onterie are being conducted throughout September. The Joint Commission, CDC and Illinois Department of Public Health require annual TB screenings for all RIC staff, contractors and volunteers.  Screenings consist of either the TB skin test or completion of a questionnaire when the skin test is contraindicated.

TB testing is available in the Employee Occupational Health Services clinic, located in room 1616.

Testing Hours: Monday, Tuesdays, Wednesdays Thursdays (readings only) and Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. No appointment is necessary.

Limited department-based, evening, night and weekend testing is available. You can access the full detailed schedule with this link.

RIC Matters Submission Deadline

The deadline to submit articles and announcements for RIC Matters is Monday at noon if you want them published in the following Wednesday’s newsletter. Please remember if your articles are time sensitive to submit them as early as possible to: RICMatters@ric.org. Thanks!

Superior Street Sprout Café Menu

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Welcome New RIC Team Members

Sofia Anastasopoulos – Physical Therapist, Homewood Day Rehab

Melanie Carli – Psychologist, Willowbrook Day Rehab

Kristan Griesbach – Occupational Therapist, Pediatrics

Monique Harris – Patient Dining Assistant, Food Service

Anne Holmes – Refund Coordinator, Patient Financial Services

Margaret Holzrichter – Child Development Intern

Elliott Rouse – Research Scientist.Prosthetics and Orthotics, Center for Bionic Medicine

Maurice Sanford – Patient Dining Assistant, Food Service

Eileen Spangler – Physical Therapist, Allied Health, Pediatrics

Rachel Vaughn – Occupational Therapist, Willowbrook Day Rehab

Nanette Zarhloul – Administrative Coordinator, Wheeling Day Rehab