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RIC Matters 2014-04-16

Quote of the Week

Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement.”

–W. Clement Stone


Back Issues

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


Limb Loss Awareness Month Has Special Meaning at RIC

April is national Limb Loss Awareness Month. It’s something we’re well acquainted with at RIC where every day we work with patients to educate, rehabilitate and help prepare them for living their lives to the fullest following the loss of limbs.

Nearly two million Americans live with limb loss, with the number expected to double by 2050, due largely to the rise of diabetes cases, according to the Amputee Coalition, which is promoting the awareness campaign. Each day, more than 500 Americans lose a limb, and many of these amputations could be prevented.

 At the RIC flagship hospital last year, we saw 77 lower extremity amputees and 14 non-lower extremity amputees as inpatients. Many of those patients, as well as others from around the country and around the world, have used the LIFE Center to learn about living with limb loss.

RIC Matters sat down with Jamee Riggio Heelan, Education Program Manager of the LIFE Center, and an occupational therapist, to talk about the services and resources we have to help patients and families deal with the loss of limbs.

Why is Limb Loss Awareness Month Important?

 “It’s important because it doesn’t just affect the person with the disability, it affects the entire family. When the dynamics of the family change because of a limb loss, it affects everyone, including the children. At the LIFE Center, I’ve taught a lot of kids about why their mom is missing fingers or her legs. If you can educate the kids so that they understand their family member isn’t any different on the inside, and to accept disability a little bit better, then we’re helping.”

What kinds of strides have we made in rehabilitation services for amputees?

“RIC is so well known in this area, and we have Dr. Todd Kuiken (Director of the Center for Bionic Medicine and Director of Amputee Services) who has been phenomenal with his research and surgical procedures. We have the higher level prosthetics patients, meaning higher up on the arms, above the elbows, who are being fitted with prosthetics.”

How have prosthetics improved?

“They’re different from the old conventional prosthetics. The components are getting smaller and the equipment and the plastics are much lighter. Prosthetists are fabricating some incredible prosthetics that are very appealing to people.

How do you work with families affected by limb loss?

“We let them know what a prosthetic looks like. We let them touch it. We take away a lot of the mystery behind what prosthesis are, or what an amputation is, and it opens up a lot more acceptance. It takes away the fears.”

What about children?

“I have a whole duffle bag of prosthetics to show children.. We want to take every mystery away, and let them ask whatever questions they want. That’s how they get comfortable and realize, ‘oh, that’s just like a shoe.’ They’re going to put it on when they need it and take it off when they don’t. We have dolls here from which I’ve amputated their limbs and actually made prosthetics for the dolls. The kids can touch the dolls and take the prosthesis on and off and it makes them feel more comfortable and they can ask questions about it.”

How else does the LIFE Center help with limb loss education?

“The LIFE Center is awesome. I have reached out to people all over the world and in rural parts of countries who are dealing with limb loss. I’ll send them information, and I’ll ask what age groups they’re dealing with. I’ll also let them know about useful reference materials.”

American Heart Association Funds Research in Stroke Patient Swallowing Rehabilitation

The American Heart Association recently offered financial support for research at RIC that examines treatments to assist stroke patients with swallowing impairments.

Earlier this year, representatives from the Association attended a reception and presented a check for $153,999 to RIC and Dr. Laura Pitts, a speech-language pathologist and postdoctoral fellow. Dr. Pitts is investigating combined noninvasive brain stimulation (NIBS) and exercise-based treatments for those experiencing swallowing impairment after a stroke. Dr. Pitts has worked in the Center for Aphasia Research and Treatment since 2012 and specializes in dysphagia rehabilitation.

Also at the reception were Dr. Pitts’ mentor, Dr. Leora Cherney, and Dr. Zev Rymer, as well as past American Heart Association grant recipient Dr. Jin-Sook Roh. The research team involved in the American Heart Association Clinical Research Grant on NIBS and exercise-based treatments for post-stroke dysphagia includes: Dr. Lynn Rogers, Dr. Xue Wang, Dr. Richard Harvey, Dr. Leora Cherney, and Dr. Matthew Oswald. Speech-language pathologists Valerie Blouch, Meera Rathinasamy, Rene Ruzicka, and Anne Marie Doyle are assisting with data collection and analysis.

The event was a wonderful celebration of the longtime support the American Heart Association has provided to RIC researchers engaged in groundbreaking work related to cardiovascular disease.

Northwestern Medical Students Learn About the “Rehabilitation Journey”

Lisa Rosen, Manager of the LIFE Center, presented a lecture last week on the “Rehabilitation Journey” to a group of first year medical students from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

The lecture, “First Encounters: Reflections on a Rehabilitation Journey,” included talks from three RIC peer mentors who offered insights from their “lived” experiences. The peers included Hannah Thompson, Darren and Faith Brehm.

Last week’s lecture came about after the LIFE Center received overwhelmingly positive feedback from medical students who previously participated in the “Patient Perspectives” lecture series provided by the LIFE Center. Dr. Monica Rho asked Rosen to develop and present a two-hour lecture to be part of Northwestern’s Musculoskeletal Health and Society curriculum.

The lecture was an opportunity to help the medical students learn about RIC and the many services we provide, including the resources of the LIFE Center. Discussions included the long-term challenges that patients face after hospitalization and their need for resources.

Rosen said the peer visitors were instrumental in helping illustrate the importance of doctor/patient communication, and provided examples of strategies to support self-advocacy, wellness and patient-centered care. They spoke about treating others with respect and compassion, and about being their own advocates. Their messages made a powerful impact on the budding physicians.

Rosen said she received positive feedback about the lecture, including a remark from one student who said, “This was one of the best lectures that I have ever attended!”  Afterward, the students posed for a group photo (above) as a memento.

Good Friday Service

There will be a Good Friday Service at the RIC flagship this Friday, April 18, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., at the RIC chapel on the South Mezzanine. The service will be a meditation on the Seven Last Words of Christ.

RIC Insider

Reminders This Week

Quality Fest 2014 takes place today from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Heyworth Rooms on the 2nd floor of RIC Superior Street. Be sure to stop by to view and vote for your colleagues’ efforts. Night shift staff at RIC Superior will have the chance to view posters and vote for their favorite project in room 1654 from 4:00 p.m. today until 9:00 a.m. on Thursday.

The annual Parkinson’s Resource Fair and Awareness Talks will take place on April 22, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., at the flagship hospital, 345 East Superior Street. The Resource Fair will take place in the lobby from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The Awareness Talks will be held from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the RIC Heyworth Rooms on the 2nd floor. For more information, contact the LIFE Center at 8-5433.

For those of you who signed up to bring your children for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, please remember that check-in is from 8:30  to 8:45 a.m. at the Sprout Café on the second floor. For a full agenda of the day’s activities, click here.

RIC Northshore in Northbrook, in association with the Parkinson’s Foundation, is hosting its Caregivers’ Appreciation Luncheon on Saturday, April 26, 2014, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. For more information call 305-537-9921 or email

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: Thanks!

Superior Street Sprout Café Menu

Please click here to access the Superior Street Sprout Café menu.

Welcome New RIC Team Members

Gabrielle Brazg – Physical Therapist, RIC Inpatient Allied Health Float Staff

Ariane Garrett – Project Coordinator – Clinical Research, RIC Research – Clinical Research Core

Jesse Manson – Research Intern, RIC Research – Center for Bionic Medicine

Melissa Mara – Occupational Therapist, RIC Allied Health Flex Staff Core

Juley-Ann Nauert – Rehabilitation Technician, RIC River North DayRehab Center

Assia Riva – Self-funded Scholar, RIC Research, Sensory Motor Performance

JeAnna Stovall – Manager, Medical Records Coding, RIC Medical Records

April Szymanski – Nurse Practitioner, RIC Physician Practice Unit

Kristine Uragami – Physical Therapist, RIC Allied Flex Staff Core