After getting married and moving to Philadelphia in 1997, Renee Hincapie chose to work at MossRehab Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia. In 2014, MossRehab Collegeville opened its doors, enabling Renee to work full time in an outpatient setting in serving patients with neurological and orthopedic conditions. After becoming certified in LSVT BIG treatment in June 2018, she specializes in treating Parkinson’s patients to regain their functional mobility.
Why did you choose to become a physical therapist?
I always wanted to go into the science field for my career. After spending a summer working at my sister’s clinic as an aide, I decided I liked the “physicality” of being a physical therapist.
What is your educational background and certifications?
I graduated from Temple University with a Masters in Physical Therapy in 1995. In addition to attending many continuing education courses over the span of my career, I received my certification in LSVT BIG Treatment in June 2018. LSVT BIG therapy focuses on limb neurorehabilitation for Parkinson’s patients. This group of patients usually demonstrate “festinating gait patterns” meaning they often shuffle their feet and have difficulty lifting them high enough to clear barriers, making them at risk for falls. They also could present with “cogwheel movement patterns” where they struggle doing the simplest of tasks like opening a door. LSVT BIG treatment works on improving the fluidity of motion in both the upper and lower extremities.
Why did you decide to work at MossRehab?
Before joining MossRehab in 1997, I worked as a PT in another rehab facility which offered inpatient and outpatient rehab with different types of patients (pediatrics, geriatrics/orthopedic and neuro patients). After getting married and moving to Philly, I wanted to work at a rehab facility like the one I left. MossRehab fit the bill. I like the vibe of MossRehab as the clinical staff is very friendly and supportive. I’ve stayed at Moss for over 26 years, working in a variety of settings. In May 2014, I decided to take a staff position at MossRehab Collegeville. I travel 45 minutes back and forth to the clinic each day as I love my co-workers and patients. No better combination.
What is your involvement in the Big and Loud program?
At MossRehab Collegeville, a speech therapist and myself run the LSVT BIG and LOUD Program as part of the network’s Parkinson’s Disease Therapies. The Loud segment focuses on speech therapy; the Big treatment targets physical therapy. Based on an evaluation of balance, endurance, and neuro strength, a patient may enter the BIG program that runs for four weeks, with one-hour sessions for each day of those four weeks. The goal of BIG therapy is restoring functional stability and mobility so patients can move more efficiently and easily. Patients are given maximal exercises to perform twice daily at home (even on weekends). If patients cannot commit to the program intensity, they are given other options for therapy.
Can you describe a typical BIG therapy session with a patient?
For the BIG program, we always start by taking blood pressure and heartrate checks. We move and we move a lot so getting baseline vital signs is needed. Then, we go through seven daily maximal exercises. The patient performs each exercise routine ten times. After that, we focus on five functional component tasks such as sit to stand, lifting legs high enough to clear a step or an object, etc. From there, we move into BIG walking that focuses on improving gait with emphasis on larger movement patterns. If there is enough time, we discuss “homework assignments” that the patient should continue at home. These activities could include tying shoes, putting on a coat, writing a check, etc. The program is tailored for the patient’s level of fitness and functional needs.
What are your clinical interests?
The majority of my career focused on neuro-rehab. Returning to the outpatient setting in Collegeville, I looked to strengthen my ortho skills along with still seeing those challenging neuro patients. I believe you must continue to challenge yourself as a PT by going outside your comfort zone, and constantly educate yourself on what is new.
What are your interests outside of work?
I love reality shows - no shade, please! They are like potato chips for your mind - you can’t have just one! I also like to ski and work out, which has changed as I have gotten older.
What is your favorite thing during your leisure time or on vacation?
I love sitting on the beach and reading People magazine. I like to see what celebrities are wearing, doing and, most of all, with whom they are cohabitating!
Who influenced your life?
I would say, my dad. He was very old-schooled. Women did not go to college in his generation; they married early and stayed home to raise families. He also was a second-generation immigrant from Poland. I grew up as one of nine children in a low-income household. My dad always told me that nobody could take away my education; the more educated I became, I would be better off in life. He also told me that being a female should never stop me from achieving my dreams. He raised me to rely on myself.
Last book that you read?
Michelle Obama’s Becoming.
Swedish fish (I don’t know if that is actually a food!), baked lasagna, and pierogis - although it is hard to beat my mom’s!
Don’t let anyone or anything ever stop you. Even when things are looking grim, keep trucking’. When you truly give up is when you are really lost!
Find out more about MossRehab LSVT-BIG program.
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