Podcast | Episode 3: Crowdsourcing

50 Year Anniversary

Oct 11, 2019

Welcome to the Brooks Rehabilitation podcast where we talk to our rehabilitation professionals to shed light on the stellar programs and services we offer to help our patients reach their highest levels of recovery.

Brooks Crowdsourcing has been a huge success to our organization. It has established programs and services throughout our system that have helped us help more patients and meet them directly at their needs.

Send us an email with your questions, comments or podcast ideas to [email protected]!

Listen to the full episode on your favorite podcast app! Search ‘Brooks Rehabilitation Podcast.’ You can also listen online. Below is a transcript of our newest episode.

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Podcast Transcript

Michelle: Welcome to the Brooks Rehabilitation Podcast. My name’s Michelle.

Tracy Davis: And my name is Tracy Davis. This is a special episode for us. This is going to be a little bit out of order. We are currently sitting at the Omni Hotel downtown Jacksonville, and all of our Brooks managers just voted on our crowdsourcing winners. We’ve talked about crowdsourcing in other episodes of the podcast. We’re going to keep this intro brief because we do have a lot to get to in this podcast. Crowdsourcing started in 2013, a little bit based off of the One Spark thing that used to be downtown where people could invent ideas and then people would fund them and stuff like that. So that got brought into Brooks. And employees, once every two years I should say, employees get to submit their ideas and this could be anything to … It’s a gap that’s for Brooks. Maybe we’re missing, like for are the Aphasia Center, we didn’t have a kind of Aphasia Center before. We didn’t have Helen’s House. We didn’t have our Spinal Cord Injury & Related Disorders Day Treatment Program (SCI/D), just to name a couple of those.

Tracy Davis: But these ideas are submitted, and then our executive team looks at all of the ideas that are submitted and then chooses usually around nine or 10 people to come and present in front of our entire management team, which is around 200 people. And then they vote on the winners. And then from there, the winners get some seed money to not just fund whatever their program is but to fund the seeking out of their idea further. So maybe that’s traveling around the country at other … like Jody did for the Aphasia Center. They traveled to other Aphasia Centers. So they get to seek their idea out further. They get help from our Brooks Marketing Team, from our business development and planning team. So they get a lot of support from all of different areas of Brooks to help their idea grow and see how we can make this a feasible thing to bring it into existence. Like, again, Aphasia and Helen’s House, and Spinal Cord Injury & Related Disorders Day Treatment Program (SCI/D). So we just finished. They just got off the stage. We just talked to all four of them, and Michelle’s going to tell you what the four winners are.

Michelle: So the four winners are The Canine Rehabilitation, Thrive Farm, Play, and The Center for Feeding Voice and Swallow.

Tracy Davis: Yep. And instead of telling you what these are, we’re going to let them tell you a little bit more about that. But before we get to those guys, we’re going to have our CEO, Doug Baer, talk a little bit about what the crowdsourcing? How that has impacted Brooks since 2013, because there’s quite a few of them? And then we’re going to have Michael Spigel, our President and COO, come on and talk a little bit more about it as well. And then we will get into the four teams. We sat down with each of them. They just got off stage about maybe an hour ago, and we sat them down while they’re still kind of in shock, all of them. You can tell they were all still in shock that they won, because it’s been a lot of effort on their part. They all built PowerPoints, and put a lot of effort into recording videos and just really researching their idea so that they can present it.

Tracy Davis: Because they get eight minutes to present it and it’s a lot of information to give eight minutes. But every team did a fantastic job, every single team that presented. They’re all great ideas. They wouldn’t have been up there if they weren’t anyway. So let’s get right into the rest of the podcast. What has crowdsourcing meant to our organization since 2013?

Doug Baer: Crowdsourcing is a tremendous program. It’s a way for us to garner ideas from our staff members, and really, that’s so important because our employees know what we need to be doing to help our patients and families and make this a better place to work. So it is a formal process, in a way that we can harness those ideas and really bring them out and bring them to light. And so it’s a tremendous program and very, very important. And we’ve had some tremendous new programs and services that have come out of those, including our Aphasia Center, our Helen’s House, our Family Housing Unit. We’ve had our Spinal Cord Day Treatment Program, and then our BRAV program, our augmentative devices program. So those are just some examples that come to mind. And those have been our winners, if you will. But even the ideas that come forth that are not the winners are good ideas that we as leaders need to try to implement if we can.

Tracy Davis: What about crowdsourcing sets Brooks apart? It doesn’t seem like the organizations have a program that allows employees to submit ideas.

Doug Baer: Crowdsourcing really came out of the One Spark idea that has happened here in Jacksonville, and that’s where the inventors came up with new ideas in more of a contest kind of format. So it really stemmed from that idea. And then we use that to really ask our employees in a formal way to bring those ideas forward. And then the neat thing is that we have our whole management team can hear the finalists and really be able to vote on the top idea. So we involve a lot of people in the whole process and it is fun and exciting, and really allows some other people that may not have a chance otherwise to come to the forefront and be recognized and bring forward their great ideas. And it really works. We provide the winners some dollars that they can explore their idea and pair them up with our business development and finance people to be able to bring those ideas to fruition or at least determine if they’re feasible.

Doug Baer: So it is a very unique program. I’ve told other people around the country about it, and I highly recommend it to others as a way to harness these innovative ideas and put them into action. And we had the results to show for that.

Tracy Davis: So over the years, we’ve had quite a few winners, is there a winning formula for a crowdsourcing presentation or idea?

Doug Baer: Well, that formula is the ability to engage the management team in a way that tugs at the heartstrings and demonstrates how important the programs are to the patients and families. And those have been the ones that have really been the winners. People are creative. They use videos, they use all sorts of… They engage other people in the company to help them. People go all out, and we love to see that. And those are the people that have been successful.

Tracy Davis: We know that employees have to submit their ideas, and then the executive team chooses them to present to the management team to possibly win. What are you guys looking for whenever you’re choosing a team to present?

Doug Baer: I think the advice that I would give is ideas that are… Some could be small ideas, some could be big ideas, but it’s that what are those ideas that can fill a gap that we’re not fulfilling right now. And it is with the focus on how to improve what we do for our patients and families. What can make our outcomes better? That’s what I would focus on. It doesn’t have to be a very in depth, complicated submission. We want to first gather the ideas. And those ideas that are good are going to rise to the top. It’s a really tough process to select the winners and a competitive process. So there’s a lot of good ideas in there. And the most challenging thing is those ideas that aren’t selected as the quote winners, how do we follow up on those and implement those as we can? That’s why we only do it every other year. Because what we found, we get a lot of great ideas and the follow-up on those is challenging. And it’s an area we got to get better at actually to be quite honest.

Doug Baer: So because there’s terrific ideas, some do rise to the top, but it’s more many, many of the ideas we look at and said, “Gosh, we need to be doing these.” And whether they are quote winners or not. So I really want to compliment everyone and admire everyone who submits ideas. And that’s what we’re really looking for in the company and for our employees to be doing

Tracy Davis: Brooks has a history of doing this even before we had crowdsourcing, where employees have submitted ideas and then their ideas have become programs at the organization. And crowdsourcing seems to have just given that formalization to the process of how employees can submit ideas and hopefully, implement them.

Doug Baer: That’s a very good point. Before we had crowdsourcing, we had some people that have brought programs forward. And I think that’s our job as leaders in the company. We don’t have all the answers. We need to be… We try to listen to the people that are on the front line, so to speak, in dealing with our patients and families. And they know what we need to be doing. So we need to create the environment that people can bring forward those ideas. The examples of the Adaptive Sports Program in the Clubhouse or two. Very successful, impactful programs where we fortunately did listen to the people that brought those ideas forward and were able to implement those. And crowdsourcing is yet another kind of more formalized way to do that. But that’s important job for us as leaders in the company to be able to listen to our team members and create the environment where they feel good about bringing forth those ideas. And that’s the kind of culture and environment we want to have here at Brooks.

Tracy Davis: I want to thank Doug Baer for his time. And let’s get straight into our interview with Michael Spigel, our President and Chief Operating Officer. Michael, since starting crowdsourcing in 2013, what is the impact been on Brooks? Did it start off as a small idea, and let’s see where it goes, or did you guys already know this was going to be a big hit for Brooks?

Michael Spigel: When we started crowdsourcing in 2013, we really didn’t have any expectations. It was more an idea of just another way to engage employees and get feedback from employees on things that we could be doing differently that would fill gaps, that would improve either patient satisfaction, patient outcomes, or employee engagement. And this is our fourth year that just ended. In the four years, it has meant far more to Brooks than I think we could have ever imagined. It is exciting for us. It’s exciting for employees, it’s exciting for management. This year alone we had over 60 ideas submitted. A lot of fantastic ideas makes it very hard to narrow that down to the nine. When we’re within a couple months of crowdsourcing, there’s a big buzz in the organization. There’s a lot of interest, a lot of excitement both from the people who were selected to present as well as employees throughout the company wondering what the outcome is going to be. So it’s been a great benefit to Brooks, a great benefit to our employees and is something we’re going to continue in the future.

Tracy Davis: You said you got over 60 ideas submitted. How does the executive team go about whittling that down to choosing just a handful to actually present to the managers?

Michael Spigel: Well, within the 60, there’s always a few that are just things we should do to improve our operations that are really not a crowdsourcing idea. And we give those ideas back to the division leaders saying, “Here’s something that could improve our employee experience, and really our patient experience. And they’re very operational.” But what we look for in the ones that ultimately present our ideas that are innovative, ideas where there’s clearly a lot of passion from the employees who submitted the idea, and an idea that we think if it was a winner, could be implementable. From a financial perspective, from an energy and effort perspective, from an expertise within the system. We do not ask for people when they submit ideas to have very well thought out ideas. It’s basically, give us a paragraph or two paragraphs or half a page that really gets your idea noticed. And so that’s what we look for. We look for, is it innovative? Does it fill a gap in helping our patients, our employees? And do we have a lot of passion behind the idea? And do we have the expertise within the individuals that submitted the idea?

Tracy Davis: So the ideas that have already been implemented so that these people they submitted their idea. They got chosen to present. And then they won, and their ideas have now been implemented and become a part of the fabric of Brooks. Are there any standouts that have really surprised you or really impressed you with how they’ve done so far?

Michael Spigel: That’s a hard question. I’d have to say the Aphasia Center, certainly, by far in a way filled a huge unmet need in the community. We had three speech therapists who submitted that idea. They really ran with the idea and created what we call a hybrid center, providing a variety of services for people who are living with moderate to severe aphasia. But really, within the first year of opening, we were at capacity. And the program has remained at capacity since that time. Both the function of a lot of demand, and then people who are in the program really want to stay in that program for very long periods of time. And as a community benefit program, we do encourage people to come once a week, come five times a week, come one month, come the rest of your life. So I think that program in my eyes filled the largest unmet need in the community with aphasia.

Michael Spigel: Our Spinal Cord Injury Day Treatment Program, which just started this January, I think we’re going to look back and see it’s similar to the Aphasia Center. Really filling an unmet need for individuals who have a new spinal cord injury and making that transition from hospital to home to back to the community. And then of course, Helen’s house was a winner in our original or initial crowdsourcing. And that idea was providing housing for families when their loved one may be in our rehab hospital or our skilled nursing facility. And within a couple years, our family housing is almost full on a daily basis. But we hear amazing stories from the people staying there of the community nature, the feel, the caring, the compassion that goes on within inside Helen’s House. And so that’s another idea that came to life and has more than met our expectations.

Tracy Davis: So when I spoke to Doug, that was before our 2019 presentations. But I’m speaking to you after. What about the four winners? It surprised you, excites you, for any of these ideas to actually become a part of Brooks?

Michael Spigel: Because we had nine great presentations. People put a lot of time, teams put a lot of time into crafting their presentation. I would say the thing that singles out the four would be the presenters had an incredibly compelling story. They told it in a way that really tugged at the audience’s heartstrings of what this would mean for people. Whether it was people with brain injury or people requiring other services. So they’re definitely the winners exhibited tremendous passion, and they were able to get that through their presentation. The winners were able to demonstrate a lot of excitement and a lot of energy, and a lot of knowledge around the topic. And that’s probably what separated the four who won from the other five who gave great presentations. But those top four really, maybe made a greater connection.

Tracy Davis: I want to thank Michael for his time, and let’s get straight into the Winners of The 2019 Brooks Crowdsourcing. Okay. So let’s let’s start off. Congratulations.

Amanda Stafford: Thank you.

Mona T Gordon: Thank you.

Tracy Davis: You guys are almost fresh off the stage. You just heard that you won.

Amanda Stafford: Yes.

Mona T Gordon: Yes.

Tracy Davis: So start off by telling us your name.

Amanda Stafford: My name is Amanda Stafford, and I work at the Brooks Rehabilitation Clubhouse.

Tracy Davis: And what do you do there?

Amanda Stafford: I manage the maintenance unit.

Mona T Gordon: And my name is Mona Taylor Gordon, and I work at the Brooks Clubhouse. And I am the Business Unit Supervisor.

Tracy Davis: And how long have you guys been in the clubhouse?

Amanda Stafford: I’ve been there three and a half years.

Mona T Gordon: And I’ve been there about eight years.

Michelle: Can you explain what are your ideas for crowdsourcing?

Mona T Gordon: So the idea is to have a residential facility housing for persons with acquired brain injury, and to have it in a farm setting. Something that will be therapeutic for the residents that live there. And to have a beautiful barn that will help us sustain the cost because we want to make it affordable for the residents to really enjoy where they live.

Tracy Davis: Okay.

Amanda Stafford: So the barn specifically is going to be the main focus of the farm, where we’re going to have community involved in hosting beautiful weddings and school field trips and corporate events. And just trying to generate funds that way. And then of course, we’ll be growing organic herbs and vegetables that will be sold at market throughout Jacksonville, throughout our Brooks locations. And just really providing a supported yet independent living for a lot of people that we work with that we see. People our age, late 30s, early 40s, are getting along in their rehabilitation, but then at the end of the day, when they’re leaving Clubhouse, where do they go? A lot of our people are going to skilled nursing homes, they’re going to live with their mother, they’re going to live with even a grandmother, an ex spouses, family.

Amanda Stafford: So just not an ideal situation for a lot of people. Of course, also, there’s a lot of tension in those family settings because now the family is a caregiver again of an adult child or whoever it is. And so we thought that by providing a community for these people to live more independently and also gains some kind of gainful employment, we can make their life a lot more enjoyable.

Tracy Davis: Sure. And it sounds like your idea is kind of a continuation of the next step after Clubhouse. Was Clubhouse started in 2008 to be a place for people to go after they leave rehab? Because where do they go? And now, they go to Clubhouse. So do you guys want to talk just very briefly about what the Clubhouse is so people can kind of get an idea of how Thrive is the next step?

Mona T Gordon: Okay. So the Clubhouse is the next step in the continuum of care after outpatient therapy. What our manager Kathy Martin found was that people were going home after outpatient therapy, but caregivers were going back to work. And they were left home, and they became isolated and thus depressed. So the Clubhouse bridges the gap and helps them reintegrate back into the community. And we also have work units, and each member works in either the kitchen, the business unit, or the maintenance unit. And it builds a sense of community and a sense of family. We tell the members all the time that it’s their Clubhouse, and so they really take ownership in that. And I just feel like Thrive Farm again, will be that next step to getting them back to living independently, but with support. And also, the reason we named it Thrive Farm is because we want them to thrive. We want them back into life again.

Tracy Davis: It’s perfect. Yeah. And I think that helps really add a little bit more weight, like we said to what your idea was. So briefly, how did the idea come about? I heard you kind of talking about because both you guys have been working there for quite some time. So when did the idea strike? Has it been an idea you’ve had for a long time or when you saw they ask for crowdsourcing presentations?

Mona T Gordon: No. This has been in my mind since 2011. I went to work at the Clubhouse that year. And what I found was, it was a desire not only for the members but also for their caregivers. Living with an adult with a TBI, it has its challenges. And like Kathy saw the need to provide a place for them to go, I wanted to take that step further. Because we all dream of living on our own when we become adults. And unfortunately, because of a tragic accident or medical condition, they have been put in a situation where they have to move back home because of finances. So that was really a key thing we wanted to focus on is to how to help it to be sustainable. Because we didn’t want to have to charge $13,000 a month. Nobody can afford that. So we wanted to make it affordable. We wanted to make it green living. We want it to make it therapeutic. We wanted to do all those things, because recovery is lifelong. They will be recovering forever, and why not do it in a beautiful environment.

Michelle: So what is your plan whenever you receive your grant money?

Amanda Stafford: We’re going to use our grant money to do more research and visit like minded places I guess, and just feel out what is out there? What are people doing? What is successful? What is not successful? We kind of started that on our own a little bit with some visits to the arc village in Jacksonville. And we got some good feedback. So I think just really picking people’s brains and seeing how we can take our Thrive Farm and make it the best that we possibly can.

Tracy Davis: Congratulations.

Amanda Stafford: Thank you.

Mona T Gordon: Thank you.

Tracy Davis: Thank you so much. I know it’s still really fresh, right?

Mona T Gordon: Yes.

Amanda Stafford: Yes.

Tracy Davis: Well, I know it was a lot of work. So congratulation.

Amanda Stafford: Thank you so much.

Michelle: Thank you for taking your time.

Amanda Stafford: Thank you.

Tracy Davis: All right. So congratulations. You guys just won Crowdsourcing. Let’s go ahead and start off by telling me what is your team name? The team that won.

Emily Townsend: Our team name is Play or Playing, Learning, Adapting for Youth. Yay.

Tracy Davis: And then tell me your names?

Emily Townsend: My name is Emily Townsend.

Tracy Davis: And where do you work?

Emily Townsend: I work at Halifax Brooks Pediatric Rehab. I’ve been there for the last two years. I’m also the center manager as well as a physical therapist.

Alexa Greenwald: And I am Alexa Savvy Greenwald. I am a speech language pathologist and I also work at the Daytona Peds Rehab. And I have been there since 2017 when it first opened.

Emily Townsend: And our other teammate with us here today is Tyler Lasser Tosa. And he is our occupational therapist.

Michelle: Can you tell us a little bit about your idea and where it came from?

Emily Townsend: Our idea came from working with children with a variety of special needs or different abilities. We really wanted to give them an opportunity to be able to play and interact with peers and feel like they belong… We already have a nice fenced in area in our clinic that’s currently just a grassy knoll. We’re hoping to change that into something a little bit more for our kiddos.

Tracy Davis: Great. So where did the idea come from? How long have you been thinking about this idea? Did it hit you whenever the crowdsourcing nomination or the crowdsourcing submissions came up or have you been thinking about this for a while?

Alexa Greenwald: I feel like we’ve had this idea in the works since we opened the clinic. So we had this area and we had already kind of thought, “Oh, we’re going to put a playground out there.” So we’ve had this idea probably since 2017.

Tracy Davis: Okay. Great. So tell us a little bit more about the idea. What is it exactly? Just to give everyone listening an idea of exactly what it is?

Emily Townsend: Sure. So we are going to build an adaptive play space, attached to our clinic. And we’re going to use that for different therapeutic interventions, motor play, sensory integration, as well as social skill development. We will also use it for community outreach programs. There’s a lot of kids in our county that just don’t get the services they need. And our goal is to be able to use this area as a medium for Play and healthy childhood development.

Tracy Davis: That’s great. Yeah. The ones that stuck out to me the most in your presentation was obviously the kids talking on camera, especially the little girl for some reason. It just hit me really close. Because she was talking about how when other kids are playing she goes and sits by herself. And that was extremely, hit me right in the face as the kids say. So what’s next? What are you thinking you’re going to do with the money that you’re getting to seek your idea out further? What’s the next step? Haven’t thought about it yet? Still in shock?

Emily Townsend: We’re basking in the moment. But I the next step is to meet with the team and see what the most important pieces are to get this adaptive playground where we want it. So it’s going to be a couple of weeks in the making. But I think while we’re working on the actual structure itself will be able to communicate about what other expansion programs we can do because we have a bunch of ideas.

Tracy Davis: That’s awesome. What do you guys think is the reason you won whenever you presented and everything? Why do you think everyone voted for you?

Emily Townsend: We won because of the kids. Kiddos are our future, and kiddos are the reason why pediatric therapists are pediatric therapists. And there’s something about giving kiddos what they deserve and what they need. How can you say no to that?

Tracy Davis: That’s awesome. And then just for everyone on the podcast, your shirts are obviously Disney like. Your font it display P-L-A-Y-Y. I think you’re the only team that had shirts made for your presentation? And then you’ve got… So it’s P-L-AY-Y in the Disney font. And then underneath that you have like a swing set. You have a slide and then a seesaw. That’s awesome. And then yellow.

Alexa Greenwald: And then on the bacK they say Yay, because we want to give everybody the opportunity to say that.

Tracy Davis: Right. That’s awesome. Well, thank you guys. We really appreciate you coming in.

Emily Townsend: Thank you.

Alexa Greenwald: Thank you.

Tracy Davis: Congratulations.

Alexa Greenwald: Thank you.

Tracy Davis: So congratulations. It’s still really fresh. You guys just came off the stage, right? Pretty much?

Amanda Vargas: Yes. Thank you.

Tracy Davis: What is your team name?

Amanda Vargas: We’re the Brook Center for Feeding Voice and Swallow.

Tracy Davis: Okay. And what’s your name?

Amanda Vargas: I’m Amanda Vargas. I’m a pediatric OT in outpatient.

Tracy Davis: Okay. How long have you been in Brooks?

Amanda Vargas: Almost eight years.

Tracy Davis: Great.

Julie Speulda: I’m Julie Speulda. I’m the speech-language pathologist at the Spinal Cord Injury Day Program.

Tracy Davis: And how long have you been at Brooks?

Julie Speulda: About three years.

Tracy Davis: Great. Slide it over for him.

Rich Kelly: And I’m Rich Kelly. I’m also a speech-language pathologist at the Inpatient Rehab Hospital. And I’ve been with Brooks for about three years.

Tracy Davis: Great. So if you want to start off just tell us what your idea is?

Amanda Vargas: The Brook Center for Feeding Voice and Swallow will be one location where we can treat pediatric patients through geriatric patients in the areas of feeding voice and swallow rehab. It’s also a place where we can do diagnostic testing and more comprehensive exams, and have everything under one roof for these families who have been going to multiple different places, multiple different appointments, all for one diagnosis.

Tracy Davis: Okay. So how did the idea come to you guys? Where did the idea come from? Did it come as soon as you heard about crowdsourcing and you just came up with an idea or is it been something that’s kind of been ruminating in your heads for a while?

Julie Speulda: We were kind of thinking about it at the healthcare Plaza for a while. We were getting a lot of pediatric feeding patients, and a lot of adults with swallowing disorders. And we realized that we could probably do better for them. So we started it then in there, just trying to organize how we were doing it at the Plaza for a little bit. And then once crowdsourcing came around, we decided that we just wanted to submit.

Tracy Davis: It’s great. Yeah.

Rich Kelly: Just to add on a little bit there. About two years ago, we had a couple colleagues reaching out to us from the Orlando area asking about where they could send their patients who are currently managing symptoms related to head and neck cancer and their treatment. And we had no answer for them. And a lot of those patients, they were starting to have symptoms three years after treatment, and by then, the benefits were long gone, or they’re not seeing the therapist, or they might not have even been lucky enough to see a speech therapist to begin with. And so I feel like having this freestanding clinic where we specialize in these areas kind of makes it a beacon, a place that they can go to for that specific issue.

Tracy Davis: Great. What do you guys think it was about your presentation that got everyone to vote for you?

Amanda Vargas: I think we were able to appeal to everyone’s emotional side, I think on the feeding voice and swallow because these are everyday life skills that I think everyone was able to relate to something that we said. Whether it was that they were a parent or they could picture themselves making a phone call and talking to someone they love or going out to dinner with their friends, and what if I wasn’t able to do that or I wasn’t able to eat? So I think that message resonates with a lot of people and it’s universal.

Michelle: So what are your next steps?

Tracy Davis: What are you going to do with the money?

Rich Kelly: All right. Real question. That’s what we wanted to talk. So what we’d like to do is, a big part of this center is going to be related to education and training people. So we would like to use some of that money towards getting more certifications or courses to make ourselves experts and pass that information along throughout the Brook system to train more clinicians and just allow us to provide better service for the patients. And then the other part would be traveling around and seeing what maybe some of the voice centers or the feeding centers are doing. That way we can incorporate what they’re doing in our center at the same time making it all encompassing, more comprehensive aspects that doesn’t exist right now at least in this area, and give Brooks the advantage in terms of reaching that patient population and being able to dive into research a little bit more.

Tracy Davis: Any final thoughts about? I mean, you guys just relief now.

Julie Speulda: Just so excited. We are relieved. So excited to see what’s next.

Tracy Davis: Yeah. Absolutely. And it sounds like it’s going to be a great benefit for Brooks. So thank you guys. Congratulations.

Michelle: Thank you. Congratulations.

Tracy Davis: All right. So congratulations.

Amber Beniker: Thank you.

Heather Bias: Thank you.

Tracy Davis: You guys just won. Start by telling us your names and what you do at Brooks.

Amber Beniker: My name is Amber Beniker. I’m a physical therapist on the stroke floor in the Inpatient Rehab Hospital.

Heather Bias: And I am Heather Bias. And I’m also a physical therapist in the Inpatient Rehab Center on the stroke floor.

Michelle: So where did your idea come from, or you had to come up with it?

Amber Beniker: I have a dog, Zedd, was in our videos, and she actually had a modified barium swallow when she was one when she was diagnosed with dysphasia. And has been unable to have thin liquids her whole life. So just like our human patients, she is able to eat ice unlike a lot of our human patients. But so she’s been special from the beginning. And so more recently, she started to get neuropathy and arthritis after she was running on the beach one day. She just turned 14, though. So she started to have a hard time walking. So I wanted to find her a physical therapy clinic, just like I would do with my patients. So I looked around and I found one close to where she lives. And so that’s where we decided we can do this with what we do.

Tracy Davis: That’s awesome. And then how did the idea come to you guys? Did it just come like whenever you heard about crowdsourcing presentations, and then you hit it that you just submitted it as an idea?

Amber Beniker: That’s all Heather.

Heather Bias: I suppose one day at lunch, Amber and I were discussing about Zedd. And we were thinking about how there’s not a lot here in Jacksonville. So Zedd doesn’t live here in Jacksonville, she lives in Ohio. And we thought of I was thinking I have two dogs. What if something like that happened to my dogs, I don’t know where I would even begin. So sort of in this open conversation at lunchtime we said you know what? Maybe other people are thinking the same thing we’re thinking. We said, “Let’s submit to Crowdsourcing. Let’s go with it.” And while it was extremely left field, we were like, “Let’s go ahead and submit.” And when our name was one of the nine, we were ecstatic. And we were like maybe this could really happen.

Tracy Davis: You were not expecting?

Heather Bias: Not expecting at all.

Tracy Davis: So to clear up exactly what it is, what is your team name for what you submitted?

Amber Beniker: So Canine Rehabilitation.

Tracy Davis: Okay.

Amber Beniker: And so–

Tracy Davis: As a physical location only or rehabilitation for many locations?

Heather Bias:Yes. And yes. Just everything.

Amber Beniker: Actually the videos of Zedd on her water treadmill and doing her rehab and the passive harness are just so cute. And so I started thinking we can do this too. And so there’s a program affiliated with Colorado State University. It’s called Canine Rehab Institute, and it’s three one-week long courses and a 40 hour internship. They license that physical therapists in vet texts. They opened in 2003. And of the 1300 people, they’ve licensed only 200 have been physical therapists. So I enrolled in the courses and I’ve taken the first two already. So that’s kind of when we saw that we can do that, then we’re like we should bring it to Brooks.

Heather Bias: I would say too. We spoke about creating a singular center where we would have rehab for animals. But we also talked about what we could do in the community. So we talked about doing Paralympic sporting event for our recent graduates from the Canine Center, as well as evolving our current Adaptive Sports Model and incorporating the Canine Sports Model too. So it would be a clinic but it would also be something that we could outreach into the entire community.

Tracy Davis: Great. Again, like I remember when I was helping you guys with your presentation the questions that people have. Brooks takes care of people, right? So some people, and you guys said it in your presentation to get ahead of that. So the therapist that we have already like yourself, you can get a license. Is it a licensed certification?

Amber Beniker: It’s Certified Canine Rehab Therapists, CCRT.

Tracy Davis: And you said, how long does it take to get that?

Amber Beniker: Once you start, they want you to have it done in six months. So you have to sign up for the three classes. There’s an intro class, there’s a therapy course. There’s also a sports med course, but they’re switching the curriculum to include more of a neurology one. And then you do a week long internship with somebody that’s already certified. So really, six months. You do have to be a physical therapist for at least a year before you qualify for it. There are other programs that will license assistance as well. Canine Rehab Institute, they’re the ones licensing to do the evaluations and develop treatment plans.

Tracy Davis: Okay. So one of the biggest things I think was the help for you guys was showing the slides of patient and dog doing pretty much the same rehab. So you guys you had the aquatic therapy up there. I mean, it looks exactly the same. It looks like person and dog are doing the exact same therapy.

Amber Beniker: 100%.

Tracy Davis: Do you think that was maybe one of the biggest factors as to why the crowd chose you guys, they voted for you?

Heather Bias: I think that really helped hone it in to not sound so out of the box in that field that it was like a visual. You can say all you want. Say, “Oh, it’s just what we’re doing here.” But to see that, I think that was a real impact. Yeah. To say that’s that.

Tracy Davis: Right. It grounded into reality instead of being far out.

Amber Beniker: And this is where the future is going of rehab for dogs, for cats. Dogs and cats they’re living… Other animals that are living longer and longer. And the owners, we love our animals and we want them to get the best care just like we want our patients. So we’re going to want the same type of treatment. So I believe that we’re going to be just starting this to where more human clinics can get involved to instead of just leaving it for the vets to do exactly. We have more of the expertise to take care of.

Tracy Davis: So right now, without something like this out of a place like Brooks, if you had a dog, you’d have to find a specific rehab place? I’m guessing your vet would send you there. Your vets doesn’t do it themselves, right?

Heather Bias: I know that there’s one in Jacksonville that has a therapist that maybe comes a couple times a week, and then maybe another vet that’s interested.

Tracy Davis: So it scares.

Amber Beniker: Yep. It’s not around, you have to travel. You have to drive.

Tracy Davis: Okay, so it’s not something that is available as an outpatient therapy.

Amber Beniker: No. Not yet.

Tracy Davis: Okay. Got you. And then is there anything like this for other animals that you know? I know ours is this was just Canine, but is there stuff for other animals like that too?

Heather Bias: So we spoke more specifically to the Canine model, but cats could come to our facility. Amber talked about you’ve seen that dolphin with the fin, you can go into large breed animals. So we spoke of canine to kind of hone it in on one particular demographic of this population. But the other possibilities are endless. You could have rehab for any animal really.

Amber Beniker: One of the professors that taught one of my courses, she’s one of the world renowned surgeons for canines, and she went to UF, and she showed us videos she works with canines. But she also showed videos of her doing laser on penguins. And they were walking pre and post on manatees. She had a turtle on a theraball. Other animals too. So really, it goes for all the animals, not just cats or dogs.

Tracy Davis: Well.

Michelle: That’s so cool.

Tracy Davis: I know. I do.

Michelle: Did not even know that.

Heather Bias: When we were coming up with this presentation to and delivering the presentation to different people, we were kind of astounded by how many people were like, “Oh my gosh, my dog could have used that.” “Oh my gosh, my dog was hurt and now they still don’t walk right.” And so many people were like, “I could use that. I want to come clinic.”

Tracy Davis: People today?

Heather Bias: Not just today, but through our whole process of developing this presentation. We were shocked the whole time. We were like, “Oh, it’s not just us.” Everyone we’ve given the presentation to, if it wasn’t them personally, they knew someone really close that they were like, “Oh, I know exactly who would come to your clinic.”

Tracy Davis: The people just think… Because I’ve had dogs throughout my life and I’m thankfully, they’ve never needed rehab. But a lot of people just think that they get something like that the dog just has to live with that. They don’t think that there’s something that they could do to help it.

Heather Bias: Yeah. Those are the options. Unfortunately, this is life.

Tracy Davis: Right. But that’s not the reality.

Michelle: So what are your plans whenever you receive the money?

Amber Beniker: Well, I need to finish passing my exams for my first two courses. And then I have another course in December in Miami, and then I need to get signed up for my internship and I want to go out to Colorado Springs. I heard there’s a really good instructor there. And then Heather, it’s going to be Heather’s turn to get licensed.

Heather Bias: So with us having our licenses or certifications for this, then hopefully, we would be able to begin sort of a pilot clinic. I’d say like the networking, the marketing. See how our community is interested, how we can get people coming in and begin the process. Similar to what you would think of as your outpatient physical therapy clinic. I think getting the message out there would be a big start. Like you said, a lot of people don’t even realize there’s this option.

Tracy Davis: Right. So part of the money is you’re going to… Like for the Aphasia Clinic, I know that for the Aphasia Center they did that. They traveled to other Aphasia Centers around the country to kind of get ideas and see how we could do that. So that’s what you guys plan to do?

Heather Bias: We’re hoping to branch out. We’ve discussed trying to pair with UF health. So they have one of and gains one of the largest canine clinics at the moment. And being able to pair with them so that we do have the support from the veterinarian side of it, just like we have the support from the doctors and physicians that work with us at Brooks. And I think that pairing could really help us take those next steps.

Tracy Davis: That’s great. Well, congratulations.

Amber Beniker: Thank you.

Heather Bias: Thank you so much.

Tracy Davis: Yeah. That’s exciting.

Heather Bias: Thank you.

Tracy Davis: Michelle, and I want to thank you for listening to this episode of podcast. This is a special episode outside of our normal uploads. We wanted to highlight our crowdsourcing since it was happening at the moment. It happened just a couple weeks ago. So this episode is a little bit scattered. It was recorded over a couple of different weeks. But I want to thank Doug and Michael for taking the time out to talk about crowdsourcing, to be on the podcast. I’m sure we will have them on our future episode soon. If you would like to reach out to us, please do contact us at [email protected]. And also connect with us on social media. If you are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, just search for @BrooksRehab, and you’ll find us on there. Also, our YouTube channel If you’d.

Tracy Davis: I know some of the videos that we do get mentioned on some of the podcasts. So head over to our YouTube channel, Brooks Rehab. We got some really amazing stories there. We just uploaded a brand new one about Puschel Sorensen, who is a Guillain-Barré survivor. It’s a really touching story. And also just visit us on brooksrehab.org. We would love for you to check us out, get to know more about us. But thank you for listening and we will see you on the next one.


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