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Back to Blog Main Page Samantha Adams Newell OTR/L, BCPR
By: Jean Carl

Meet the Team

Jul 19 2022

Samantha Adams Newell, OTR/L, BCPR, is an occupational therapist in the Outpatient Traumatic Brain Injury Program at MossRehab Elkins Park. She specializes in treating the functional cognition of patients in addition to their physical rehabilitation.

What inspired you to become an occupational therapist?

When growing up, I always wanted to help people. My mom was a first-grade teacher and worked closely with an occupational therapist in her classroom. When visiting my mom, I remembered that the students working with the occupational therapist had fun and were engaged with her. That experience made me think about occupational therapy as a career. When doing fieldwork at occupational therapy school, I saw that OTs made a difference in the lives of people who had serious injuries.

What is your educational background and training?

I earned my master's degree in occupational therapy from Elizabethtown College (Elizabethtown, Pa.) and did fieldwork at Bacharach Rehab, which is an inpatient acute rehab hospital in New Jersey. I also completed the MossRehab Occupational Therapy Residency Program and received board certification in physical rehabilitation. To get my board certification in physical rehab, I completed a reflective portfolio and engaged in a year-long mentorship. The process provided professional development to improve my patient outcomes. 

Where do you work in the MossRehab network? 

I started at MossRehab in 2014 at the Brain Injury Center in Woodbury, N.J. Then, I did the OT Residency Program at MossRehab Elkins Park for a year and worked with outpatients and inpatients both in the comprehensive rehab unit and stroke services. After completing my fellowship, I worked as an OT rotator at different locations throughout the network. I then moved into my current position on the Outpatient Traumatic Brain Injury Program in Elkins Park.

What makes you stay at MossRehab?

MossRehab offers opportunities for continuing education, access to the latest technology, and research that support my growth as an OT. I’m also lucky to work with a team of exceptional clinicians. Our network works closely together to support the patient to achieve the most success for them.

What is your specialty?

I’m interested in treating the functional cognition of patients, in addition to their physical rehabilitation. I look at how to integrate their thinking skills with how they accomplish everyday activities. After a brain injury, patients often are challenged physically, cognitively, and emotionally. It’s important to address the whole person during rehabilitation.

Who are your patients?

A lot of my patients have sustained a traumatic brain injury as a result of a motor vehicle accident, work accident, or another event. While many have severe brain injuries, I also treat those with a concussion or less severe injury.  

What is the role of an occupational therapist to treat patients with brain injuries?

My role is understanding how deficits affect my patients and what activities are important to them such as getting back to work, school, or a parenting role. Or it can be daily activities such as dressing and feeding themselves. I integrate cognitive strategies and physical adaptation for them to get back to those roles. 

What's your approach to therapy?

Because I have patients with different presentations or barriers, I first have an honest conversation with them and even their caregivers in understanding what is important to them to set realistic goals. I try to understand what motivates them to keep them engaged in their rehabilitation. I usually meet with the patient care team weekly to discuss the patient and contact the doctor on their progress in therapy. It’s a very collaborative process where clinicians integrate practices across different therapies and share ideas to get the best results. Often, I incorporate techniques from the speech or physical therapist in treating the whole person.

Do you use robotic technology in rehab?

I had a younger patient with weakness and coordination issues in his upper extremity who wanted to get back to playing Xbox. I used the Amadeo robot – a robotic tool for motor dysfunctions of the hand and wrist – to work on some isolated finger motion to get his strength and coordination back to use his Xbox controller to his standards. Games paired with the Amadeo offered both intuitive and interactive cognitive challenges that sustained his attention as he was having some cognitive impairments. I also use the Armeo Spring to work on gross motor movements for hand and arm rehabilitation. It provides arm weight support so patients can engage in exercises that they might not be able to do on their own.

How do robotics help in therapy?

The robotic technology builds strength and ensures accuracy of movement. Interfaced with a computer, these devices engage patients in fun games longer and provide feedback on their movements to show progress. The games also motivate patients to work harder to get a higher score to go to the next level. 

What inspires you on the job?

My patients. By the time they come to outpatient therapy, they’ve been through so much. I’m always amazed by the strength of the patients and how their caregivers support them every step of the way.

I provide helpful strategies to patients and education to caregivers to decrease their burdens possibly during the hardest times of their lives. It inspires me to keep on trying to be the best therapist in their care.

What are your interests outside of work?

I like to be active and enjoy running and surfing. My husband and I also like to travel, go to concerts, and try different restaurants.

What's the last book that you've read?

I recently read The Alice Network by Karen Quinn. I like books with strong female characters.

What is something people might not know about you?

I pole vaulted for my college track and field team.

What's your life motto?

I think there's always something for which we should be grateful. And never sweat the small stuff.

Learn more about the Drucker Brain Injury Center and the traumatic brain injury treatments provided by MossRehab occupational therapists.

Meet the Team

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