Meet the Team
Jaun May, OTR/L, is an occupational therapist and clinical team leader of the inpatient stroke program at MossRehab Elkins Park. She helps to improve the care of patients who have had a stroke by participating in Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute research projects.
What inspired you to become an occupational therapist?
I went to the Philadelphia High School for Girls and, during career day, an occupational therapist spoke about her work. It piqued my interest. After starting occupational therapist school, I realized an occupational therapist (OT) not only assessed how a disease or event limits a person but helped reengage people in their roles in life and society. What resonated with me was how important activities and roles are for people to have a sense of purpose and satisfaction and how, as an OT, I could make an impact in helping them get back to them.
What is your educational background and training?
I got my Master of Occupational Therapy at Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and did fieldwork at both an inpatient rehab facility and at Belmont Behavioral Health System in a psychiatric setting where I learned how to use psychosocial interventions to reach a person at their level. I also completed a certificate program at Thomas Jefferson University for advanced practice in neurorehabilitation. While working at MossRehab, I served as an adjunct professor at the University of the Sciences for several years, teaching a course on cognition interventions and neuroanatomy. The experience honed my hypothesis testing and assessment skills for cognitively-impaired patients who may have decreased self-awareness. It made me think more about how I treated patients and applied theory to my practices.
How long have you worked for MossRehab?
When I graduated from college in 2002, I first worked per diem at MossRehab. In 2005, I joined full-time at Elkins Park, serving in different inpatient units including the stroke and spinal cord injury unit, as well as brain injury services. I also worked with outpatients in the Stroke Comprehensive Rehabilitation (SCOR) Program before transitioning to inpatients who had a stroke. In 2011, I became OT Team Leader for Stroke Services. Last May, I also became interim Team Leader for Spinal Cord Injury Services.
What is your specialty?
I've been studying stroke rehab and caring for patients with a stroke for so long, I would say that is my specialty. Other special interests are cognition and motor learning. I have done some presentations on motor learning and the application of robotic therapy on upper extremity interventions.
What is your role as Team Leader for Stroke Services?
I manage the occupational therapy team as part of the Spinal Cord Injury and Stroke Programs at Elkins Park. It’s not just doing administrative work and daily staff oversight. I mentor clinicians to guide them in using the best assessments and treatments to improve patient outcomes. I also help to develop the programs. For example, I recommended a new protocol to communicate patient vision assessments so the care team can work more cohesively. Now, after an OT does a vision screening for a neurological patient, information is posted in the room and emailed to the care team. Informed of a patient’s vision impairment, family and clinicians can improve communications, better situate items in a patient’s room, and provide reading material in the appropriate type font.
I also look at evidence-based research for new interventions. Several years ago, I read how mirror-based therapy could help patients with mild to moderate immobility to improve motor recovery of an affected limb. We now use this practice in a group setting as part of rehabilitation. The practice has patients sitting at a table with mirrors reflecting an image of their unaffected arm to trick their minds into thinking they are moving their affected limb.
Why do you stay at MossRehab?
MossRehab is mentally stimulating with many resources and smart people to bounce off ideas. In addition to the cutting-edge technology and research-based interventions available for patient care, MossRehab offers different opportunities for clinicians to continue education or participate in research. It also is one of the best places to work because my coworkers genuinely care about helping patients and doing a fantastic job. There's a difference between doing a good job and going above and beyond.
What is the role of an OT in the rehabilitation of patients?
You might think an OT just helps a person work on an impaired limb in rehabilitation. I help patients engage in activities important to them. It could be cooking, sewing, or just getting dressed. I have a patient who was a seamstress and wanted to get back to work. We work on specific skills like bending down to work on a hem of a dress. It’s not the same for everyone. A person who had a stroke might have both cognitive and physical impairments. Based on a patient’s presentation, I might work on the body structure as well as cognitive functions. But I like to think of my patients more than their diagnosis. They are people with different stories and roles. It’s important to remember them as individuals when choosing the right rehabilitation interventions.
In what types of research programs do you participate?
I participated as a blinded assessor for five years as part of a project team for a program conducted by MossRehab Rehabilitation Institute (MRRI) on home-based mirror therapy. As previously mentioned, it is a method of using mirrors to trick the brain into seeing an impaired limb as healthy. The research process helped me as a clinician to be systematic in my approach to patient treatment by really looking at evidence and analyzing it. I also participated in an inpatient research study comparing Armeo Therapy that uses upper extremity robotics in rehabilitation versus tabletop exercises. I wrote the protocols for the tabletop exercises while my other colleague wrote the protocol for the robotics intervention group. In the research study, I assisted with screening patients on the inpatient stroke unit to refer them for recruitment to the project.
Currently, I’m working with MRRI as part of a bigger conglomerate of researchers on the feasibility of using telemedicine for individuals who had a stroke for the rehabilitation of upper extremities. The concept is that patients go home and actively engage in rehab practices using a smart device without leaving the home. Through telemedicine, individuals don’t have to worry about transportation, especially those with physical impairments or who can’t drive.
What is your favorite place to vacation?
I miss Disney so much. My family goes every year and we're dying to go to Universal.
Can you tell me something people might not know about you?
I was born in the jungles of Cambodia and don’t have a birth certificate.
What is your life motto?
Be in the moment and enjoy your life now. Spend as much time as you can with your family. The concept of spending time with loved ones has changed over the past several years because we realize the fragility of life. So, don't sweat the small stuff. Everything will work out.
Find out about the MossRehab Stroke Rehabilitation Program.
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