Patty Brick, PT, MS
Patty Brick, PT, MS, who began her career in pediatrics at Children’s Seashore House in Atlantic City, has now been board certified twice as a (GCS) Geriatric Clinical Specialist and more recently as a (CEEAA) Certified Exercise Expert for the Aging Adult. In all, Patty has been practicing for over 40 years, first as a physical therapy assistant, and later as a physical therapist, after graduating from Neumann University in 1999.
She has worked in many places including Special Service schools, Day Training centers, free standing and hospital-based outpatient practices. She has directed a sub-acute rehab unit in a skilled nursing facility, worked PRN from homecare agencies and worked PRN and Saturdays at Bacharach.
Patty also taught in the former Physical Therapist Assistant program at Atlantic Cape Community College for 12 years.
Her experience in a wide variety of settings has given her a unique perspective.
Treating Older Adults in the Home
“When you go into the home of older adults, there is just so much that may need to change,” says Patty. “The Persian rugs, the favorite chair that the patient can no longer get up from, all have to go or be modified. Its an issue of safety and success. But to make those kinds of changes there has to be buy-in from both the patient and the family.”
Patty also holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a major in learning theory that adds to her unique perspective when working with older patients. She feels that her training affords her a way to have a conversation with patients and caregivers who might not understand or be ready to accept the level of care needed or decline of the patient.
“I try to be empathetic to the situation and the patient’s needs and try to find small ways to show success. I call it ‘Exercise snacking.’ I suggest exercises they can do throughout the day that are linked to their functional activities. If the daily routine is to get up and read the paper, I have them do 3 laps around the table first and then read the paper. Instead of “raise your arms 5 times” I have them take 5 coffee mugs down, then put 5 coffee mugs back up into place. When you get dressed, take 5 shirts out of your closet and put them on the bed. Decide which one you are going to wear, and then put the others away. I am always trying to have them do functional training with a purpose.”
“Most people are more compliant in small bites rather than then setting aside an hour to do exercise. And because the activities are functional, they see the change in their daily routine. This motivates them to do more.”
The Pandemic and the Elderly
During the pandemic she has found that otherwise active and mobile seniors have been paralyzed by fear. They have stopped leaving their homes and socializing and may not even have seen their families in many months. “They are terrified of the idea of catching COVID, but the lack of activity has caused a decline in function, and significant falls without medical management due to fear of hospitalization.”
“These are people who have lost some of their cardio-pulmonary reserves, strength, range of motion and tolerance for standing which leads to a lack of mobility. Regaining all of those things takes time and this is where ‘Exercise Snacking” comes in.”
“The people we see now are much more complicated than they used to be, and we must think outside our conventional intervention box. It is incumbent upon us to practice to the top of our license, do all we can do including advocating for our patients.”
“I truly love what I do! Every person, every patient, every family changes me as a professional and as a person. I learn something from each one.”