Physical Therapy Gets Breath of Fresh Air at Nathaniel Witherell
When physical therapy assistant MaryAnn Piamonte joined the staff of The Nathaniel Witherell back in May, she literally brought in a breath of fresh air. Piamonte, a Stamford resident who does triathlons and loves the outdoors, noticed that many of her short-term rehab patients enjoyed being outside on nice days. She took the initiative to suggest a pilot program that involved having patients do their rehab outdoors − “en plein air” so to speak.
“We have a long veranda adjacent to the rehab center, which is perfect for walking back and forth,” says Piamonte. “It has lovely views of the Rose Garden below, and patients can descend the ramp or take the steps down to walk around and enjoy its beautiful flowers and shrubs.”Piamonte says walking across the veranda and down the steps or ramp to the garden also provides rehab patients with a wonderful opportunity to work on their balance, endurance, and ability to handle uneven surfaces.
According to Dina Meles, Witherell’s therapy program manager, “Exercising outdoors really brings a functional element to physical therapy. When patients are released we want them to be able to walk on the sidewalk and stroll through their favorite parks, to get out and play golf and tennis, and to participate in other recreational activities. This outdoor physical therapy definitely helps them get ready to resume an active lifestyle when they leave the Witherell.”
Piamonte has also brought the portable pedal bikes out on the veranda so patients can enjoy the sun and fresh air while doing their physical therapy routines. In addition, patients can have their knees iced while reclining on the outdoor lounge chairs and enjoying the magnificent view of the garden below. Piamonte puts on upbeat classical music and offers beverage service – serving glasses of ice water to keep her patients well hydrated. “It’s like a party out there and it makes my day to see everyone having so much fun,” says Piamonte.
And the patients agree! A thank you letter from a recently released rehab patient says, “MaryAnn – can I call her the “Queen of the Veranda?” – impressed me with the humanity with which she treats elderly patients. She seems to give her whole being to the task at hand. I wish we had more of her – the world would be a better place.”