NSCIA Houston’s Rafferty Laredo Discusses His Occupational Therapy Career

Rafferty was drawn to occupational therapy because he believes in seeing the patient as a person, not a diagnosis.

Rafferty was drawn to occupational therapy because he believes in seeing the patient as a person, not a diagnosis.

Editor’s Note: World changers observe the world going in one direction, and they believe it should go in another. Sooner or later, they’ll ask the question, “Who is going to change the world for the better?” They come to the same conclusion, “If no one else, why not me?” They often realize that their gifts in life are seeing the world as it is, next seeing the world as it can be and finally realizing that they themselves are the implements to be used for change. That’s what happened to Rafferty Laredo. Part 2 of a 5 part series.

“I was drawn to occupational therapy because of its very strong psychology base,” Laredo says. “Occupational therapists view patients as people first, not as a diagnosis. Through an OT’s eyes and their holistic approach, individuals with spinal cord injuries are people whose lives have changed dramatically, and we are accountable for helping them develop significant and worthwhile lives. They are not just patients that have limited movement and sensation of their body. Occupational therapists see our patients as mothers, fathers, teachers, students, friends, people who love and people who are loved. We view them as people who are engaged in life, their families and their communities, and our role as occupational therapists is to help them create a new life beyond their disability.”

An occupational therapist helps a patient assess his or her life to see what it looks like after disability. Even after a lifechanging spinal cord injury, our daily tasks can and should still be performed. This includes tasks like eating, brushing your teeth, getting dressed and bathed, and carrying on with your routine of life—even if it means doing it differently. Occupational therapists value the balance between work, play, and self care. Through a combination of science, compassion, and creativity, occupational therapists establish new purposeful and meaningful lives beyond disability.”

Rafferty with one of his patients.

Rafferty with one of his patients.

For 12 years, Rafferty Laredo was extremely happy in the job he performed and the care he was able to provide to people with spinal cord injuries or other types of neurological disorders. His first job was at TIRR (The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research) Memorial Hermann (www.memorialhermann.org/locations/tirr) which is one of the leading institutions for spinal cord injury care. During his time there he served as front line clinician, manager, and clinical coordinator. Two major role models at his first job were his clinical instructor, Ina Schakarashwili and OT Supervisor, Theresa Gregorio-Torres, who taught him to always keep his mind open and to never stop learning.

Rafferty with Theresa Gregorio-Torres, one of his OT mentors.

Rafferty with Theresa Gregorio-Torres, one of his OT mentors.

Beyond comparison, his greatest influences were his patients who demonstrated to him the amazing power of the human spirit and who embraced life fully beyond adversity. They are his inspiration. “My life is better because of them,” Laredo says. While working at TIRR, he also attended school and got a master’s degree in rehabilitation technology from Texas Women’s University in Houston, Texas. Today it’s one of the premiere universities for physical therapy and occupational therapy programs in the nation. As Laredo watched and experienced the changes in healthcare over the years, he noticed some drastic changes that were ultimately very unsettling for him.

Next: NSCIA Houston’s Rafferty Laredo Saw A Need For Community Based Support For Those With Spinal Cord Injuries

About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com

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