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Back to Blog Main Page Meet the Team: Melissa Meyers, OTR/L
By: Jean Carl

Meet the Team

May 3 2023

Melissa Meyers is an occupational therapist working in the Stroke Comprehensive Outpatient Rehab Program (SCOR) at MossRehab Jenkintown. She created and co-leads the Young Empowerment Stroke Support (YESS) Group that provides education and resources for those who experienced stroke early in life.

What inspired you to become an occupational therapist?

I've always been a busy person and knew I wasn't cut out for a desk job. In high school, I observed occupational therapy sessions at a local rehabilitation facility. I liked how an occupational therapist (OT) used creativity in treatments while helping patients achieve their goals of independence. OTs certainly don't sit behind a desk and are constantly moving in a fast-paced environment. The role resonated with me and clicked with my personality

What is your educational background and training?

I earned a BS in occupational therapy at Elizabethtown College and then worked as an OT at Reading Hospital and Medical Center in inpatient acute rehab for a few years, before moving to Philadelphia in 2005. After working at MossRehab for a few years, I attended Thomas Jefferson University to obtain my Doctor of Occupational Therapy. In addition to my degrees, I am certified in the SaeboFlex Hand Splint and Kinesiology Taping (therapeutic taping techniques). I also am board certified in Physical Rehabilitation through the American Occupation Therapy Association.

You received the Master Clinician Award from the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association?

In 2016, a colleague in the OT community who worked at Magee Rehabilitation nominated me for the award. I didn't know until I was selected by the committee. The award recognizes an OT in the state of PA who consistently provides quality occupational therapy services and shares knowledge and expertise with colleagues. It was a completely unexpected and amazing experience to be acknowledged for my work at MossRehab.

Where do you work in the MossRehab network?

I work in the Stroke Comprehensive Outpatient Rehab (SCOR) program in Jenkintown treating patients who had a stroke or non-traumatic brain injury, such as a brain tumor. I initially worked in inpatient rehab at Elkins Park from 2005 to 2010, and have been in my current role for 12 years. I like working with the neuro patient population and appreciate the training from MossRehab. I’ve received mentorship from seasoned clinicians well known in the OT community over the years. I grew my professional career here.

Can you explain the Young Empowerment Stroke Support (YESS) Group?

I started the YESS Group as my doctoral capstone project in 2012. It’s an education/support group for people in the community who experienced a stroke at a younger age. Because young adults who had a stroke are still raising kids, dating, driving, and working, their goals are different from older people who may have retired and are focused on leisure activities. The group focuses on stroke education, advocacy in different settings such as the workplace, engagement in adaptive sports, and other activities. We have guest speakers like yoga therapists, acupuncturists and even patients who share their experiences in helping to empower group members. YESS is run by myself and my colleague Kristin Beltz, OTR/L, CSR.

What is the role of an OT in the rehabilitation of outpatients who experienced a stroke?

While an OT in the inpatient world works primarily in ensuring a person can take care of themselves from a basic level, my job is to focus more on community and leisure activities. My role is diverse and based on patient needs. I might help a person with the rehabilitation of their upper extremities, determine adaptive ways to do tasks such as applying makeup and cooking, strategize on how to go to the grocery store safely by accessing public transportation, or going through a driving program.

What is your approach to therapy?

I take a hybrid approach to therapy, considering the patient's goals and what is realistic and safe for them based on my assessment. I have patients that might want to drive, but it isn't feasible in the next six months. I help patients determine practical goals to achieve success during rehabilitation.

For example, I had a patient who was a golfer and wanted to get back into the sport after his left arm was affected by a stroke. He felt that if he couldn't golf to the same caliber before his stroke, he wouldn't golf at all. But it takes time for patients to accept their new limitations.

Because his passion was golf, therapy included different activities related to it. For instance, I took him to a golf course next to our building to work on balance and arm strength by putting on the green. As part of his rehabilitation, a physical therapist put him in a support harness while doing golf swings. Two years later, he is golfing on his own. While not 100%, he accepts that his body is different and is okay to golf with a handicap

What robotics do you use in OT?

We use the REAL®system that features virtual reality (VR) activities; the Armeo®Spring that unweights the arm so patients can engage in computer-simulated arm and hand exercises; the Pablo® for interactive therapies for the hand, arm, shoulder, and trunk; and the Tymo therapy plate, where patients work on balance. I also use the SaeboFlex, which isn't a robot but a state-of-the-art hand splint that helps aid hand and shoulder rehabilitation.

The REAL system supports different activities such as visual perception, cognition, upper extremity movement, balanced sitting and standing, and motor aspects of stroke recovery. Patients participate in VR games that project an image of their arms and hands. It’s probably the most diverse tool for rehab. The Armeo is great for reducing the effects of gravity so patients can move their arms and correspond movement to a game on a computer screen. I use the Armeo for patients with less arm movement because it is supportive during therapeutic intervention. The Tymo is ideal for somebody with balance issues but has a bit more movement and control. Patients stand on the footplate while balancing items projected on a computer screen in a game.

How do robotics help in rehabilitation?

The majority of patients find robotics intriguing because it's kind of sexy and state-of-the-art technology. By switching up rehab practices, robotics increases patient engagement in doing more reps of exercises for longer periods which helps improve outcomes.

What are your clinical interests?

I'm passionate about health and wellness, and educating patients on ways to eat healthier so that they can prevent further stroke. These topics are especially important to the younger population who are having strokes at an early age due to lifestyle. Reducing risk factors by eating healthier, exercising, meditating, and relaxing can help prevent strokes.My patients. I meet people when they are at their most vulnerable and I'm here to take care of them and help them get to a better place. The biggest source of inspiration I get is the progress I see my patients making towards improving their function and quality of life, and I love being able to make a difference in their recovery.

What inspires you on the job?

My colleagues and my patients inspire me every day. I work with the most amazing people and love my team. My patients are super hard working and I've learned so much from them

Who has had a strong influence on your life?

In my career, I would have to name Kristin Beltz, with whom I’ve been working for around ten years in the SCOR program. We complement each other and fill each other’s gaps. She loves to read research articles and fills me in on the latest OT methods that we practice together to see how they work in the clinic. We also co-lead the YESS program for young adults recovering from a stroke.

What are your interests outside of work?

I like to be outdoors, hang out with my children, travel, and go to the beach. I also like to cook and try new healthy meals.

What's the last book that you've read?

The last book that I read was “What Alice Forgot” by Diane Moriarty.

What is your favorite food?

My favorite unhealthy food is probably pizza and French Fries. On the healthier side, I like eggs. My favorite breakfast is bacon and eggs with a croissant.

What is something people might not know about you?

I'm a classically-trained violinist and have played since age four. I participated in orchestras while in high school and college. My daughter, whose four, just started playing.

What is your life motto?

I constantly remind myself that I'm enough or if I’m going through something, it’s only temporary and doesn’t define your life forever.

Learn about the Stroke Comprehensive Outpatient Rehab Program.


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