September 26, 2013

A Walk In the Redwoods to Remember

Photo: The group of WBRC Veterans at Muir Woods
By: Mr. Huy B Diep, WBRC Recreation Therapy Intern
On Wednesday, September 19th 2013, the Western Blind Rehabilitation Center (WBRC) students and the Polytrauma programs were treated to a day in the woods.   Christa Lyons and her husband John Lyons, who is also a Veteran, reached out and connected with Recreation Therapy staff at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS) to set up a visit to the Muir Woods National Monument in Mill Valley, CA. 

As Mr. Lyons stated, “it’s simply therapeutic,” when asked what inspired him to share this location with our Veterans at the VA.  As a Veteran who was dealing with mental wounds post-military, the Lyons' spoke highly about how frequent visits to Muir Woods, amongst the redwood trees, was helpful to John with recovering from his trauma.  Several years later they were able to come back and share this experience with fellow service members.    

Community reintegration outings are a big part of helping people with adjustment to their disability in an inclusive setting.  It’s where people receiving treatment in rehab can show off the fruits of their labor, and all of that hard work learning/implementing new strategies get put on display. Recreation Therapists have the pleasure of seeing how people function outside of a hospital setting and can provide feedback to their treatment team about what strategies are working well or could use fine tuning.   

Whether people came out to become educated about the redwoods, enjoy the scenery, go on a trail walk, or just get out of the hospital setting,  the consensus was that everyone enjoyed themselves, as evident by the big smiles and comments about how relaxing the day was.    

September 16, 2013

New Blind Center Continues to Take Shape

Photo: The New Polytrauma and Blind Rehab. Center continues
Construction crews of the new Polytrauma and Blind Rehabilitation Center continue to work hard towards completion of the new building.  The new center will overlap the original WBRC footprint on the Palo Alto VAPAHCS campus.  This will be the VA's first and only Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center to be combined with a Blind Rehabilitation Center. 

Photo: The studs of the 2nd & 3rd floor walls are visible
At 174,000 square feet, this new facility is the largest consolidated rehabilitation center in the VA.  The Rehabilitation Center includes 24 beds for the polytrauma program, 32 beds for the blind rehabilitation program, and 12 beds for the polytrauma transitional rehabilitation program. It will also house inpatient and outpatient services such as Physical Medicine Rehab (PM&R), Physical Therapy, and Occupational Therapy.

Photo: A view down one of the WBRC's new hallways
Construction is anticipated to complete in late 2014 with the building becoming operational in January 2015.  
CLICK HERE to view additional construction pictures

CLICK HERE for construction updates

CLICK HERE to read the project's news release

September 2, 2013

WBRC Welcomes New CATs Instructor

Photo: Mr. Kliks with his service dog, Marge

WBRC is proud to announce that Mr. Christopher Kliks has accepted the position of WBRC Computer Access Training Section (CATS) Instructor.  Mr. Kliks started on August 12th of this year.  Mr. Kliks completed his Master’s degree in Special Education with licensure in Visual Impairment and Blindness at Portland State University in 2012.  He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Arts from The Evergreen State College.  Mr. Kliks previously worked for the Perkins School for the Blind, where he served as the Outreach Program Interdisciplinary Team Educator.  He also completed an internship teaching Science at the Indiana School for the Blind and was one of 24 educators in the country selected for ‘Teachers of Tomorrow’, a year long program sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind.  Welcome to the WBRC Team Chris!