Regina Wirgler-Aiello got a lot more than she bargained for when she was admitted to the hospital for minor arthroscopic surgery on what she called an “ankle scrape.”
“I caught a staph infection called MRSA,” Wirgler-Aiello says. “Then I got sepsis.”
Wirgler-Aielllo, now a double amputee, speaks matter-of-factly in describing her medical woes. But her face lights up when she is asked about Sacramento State’s Interprofessional Amputee Clinic.
Seeing doctors, physical therapists, nurses, and social workers, she says, can require multiple trips to various locations. “Instead of having to get in and out of my truck, or taking my legs on and off, everything is here under one roof,” she says.
Physical therapy Professor Toran MacLeod is the driving force behind the University’s first Interprofessional Amputee Clinic. “We have 16 patients, 60 clinicians, and students from physical therapy, speech, recreation, nursing and social work,” MacLeod says.
He describes the amputees as real survivors.
“The majority of amputees don’t survive more than a month after an amputation,” he says. “And the survivors rarely receive physical therapy.”
It’s a toss-up as to who is most excited about the clinic. The patients are overwhelmingly positive about the clinic. For their part, students are thrilled to work with patients from the community and learn side by side with other health care professionals-in-training.
“Interdisciplinary teams working together is really the only way to give true patient-centered care,” says Michelle Sanders, who is working toward her master’s degree in social work. “It’s really centering around them and every aspect of what they need. But they don’t only need physical care, (and) they don’t only need physical therapy or nursing. They are a whole person, and we are treating them as such through this.”
Alexis Taber, a recreational therapy senior, agrees.
“I think it’s very important that rec therapy be instilled in every discipline, in every program,” Taber says, “because it just gives people a sense of determination. To see people overcome their challenges and push them to different limits really gives them that sense of just doing whatever they set their mind to.”
McLeod hopes to schedule another Interprofessional Amputee Clinic in late 2017. – Gloria Moraga