I’m Andrew Dennison, I’m the medical
director of brain injury rehabilitation here at Shepherd Center. I wouldn’t say
there was any single point I decided to become a doctor, but my father and my
grandfather were both physicians in the Atlanta area, and I remember growing up
going to their offices and seeing how they did things, so it had always been
something on my mind as maybe what I would want to do. So my specialty is
physical medicine rehabilitation, it’s not as well-known a specialty as many
others, but it’s kind of a combination of neurology and orthopedics that’s
particularly focused on function and having people being able to live the
lives that they want to live no matter what their impairments or disabilities.
Shepherd is really the perfect environment to practice rehabilitation
medicine, particularly if you want to take care of people who are really going
through the toughest things. That’s what we specialize in here. We can work with
patients who have the biggest problems with the best resources here at
Shepherd Center. So you can do really meaningful work.
It’s really not about me it’s about, you know, the patients, and I’m here to serve
the patients and the other staff members too, at least that’s how I like to
think of it. You want to try to make sure you’re taking care of all the medical
issues of course, but another aspect of it is that we want to make sure our
programming is the best that it can be and that includes not just doing the
newest things, but making sure that if you are going to start doing something
new that it really has solid evidence and then really taking care of the
fundamentals as well. I think there’s a lot of positive attitudes among the
staff so that people have a good time here, and I think that that translates
over to the families even though they’re going through really difficult times. I
think it’s better to be in an environment like that. We really try to
center the family within the care, so we have this concept called patient family
centered care, and if we try to have the patients and the families determine
their goals together so that we’re able to direct the therapy toward
their goals, and we use techniques like motivational interviewing to try to keep
people’s eyes on the prize of what they really want. We also very much pride
ourselves on our family training so particularly with the more severe
diagnosis we pride ourselves on our ability to get people back into their
own home and back into the community rather than being in facilities and a lot
of that has to do with being able to train the families up correctly. This is
a combination of the individual family training that occurs within the therapy
team, but also with all the different lectures and groups that we have and the
support systems that we have including counseling and chaplaincy. I think it’s
important to write down the questions that you have and know that you should
feel free to ask questions of the physicians. You shouldn’t be afraid, you
shouldn’t feel like you’re bothering the physician, if you have a physician that
is getting irritated with you asking questions, then that’s probably a bad
sign. I also train residents here in my specialty and so they often will come in
and they don’t really realize how much better people can get when they’re
provided the right environment. It’s really great to see people come back
that had been here and we’re saying minimally conscious when they were with
me, and often they don’t remember me, but their families do and they
come walking in and, you know, I get to meet somebody that I wasn’t ever able to
meet fully before, but they’re walking and talking and interactive and that’s
that feels really good.