The more complicated the physical therapy patient, the more rewarding the treatment strategy for Lisa Cecil, a 1999 Master of Physical Therapy graduate, who has always been drawn to the complex needs of acute care patients. “These are not your typical physical therapy patients,” says Cecil. “Many are in life or death situations.”
Cecil works as an acute care team leader managing 21 therapists at the Lakeland Regional Medical Center, which houses the only Level II Trauma Center in a three-county area. In the trauma intensive care unit (TICU), she and her team see victims of motorcycle and automobile accidents and other traumatic injuries, as well as patients who have been transported by helicopter to the hospital from lower acuity facilities. Often, these patients come in with multiple fractures and organs not functioning properly.
“Getting our most complex patients mobilized as early as possible gives them the best chance for success in their inpatient rehabilitation and in returning to their daily routines,” says Cecil, a board certified specialist in cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapy (CCS), one of only seven in Florida. “Early mobility is especially important in intensive care units for critically ill patients who may be on ventilators or other life-saving equipment.”
Cecil attends grand rounds and makes therapy decisions as part of an interprofessional trauma team, including physicians, surgeons, respiratory therapists, and others. To get patients back on their feet as quickly as possible, Lakeland Regional Health created an early mobility program in its TICU that it can now modify to fit each intensive care unit and medical floor of the hospital.
Cecil, an adjunct instructor at the University of South Florida and an item writer for the CCS national examination, believes therapists have an obligation to mentor the next generation of practitioners. “Students can’t learn hands-on techniques unless they get hands-on experiences.”