Putting pain in the past

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

When Shelby Baptist Medical Center Manager of Occupational Medicine Dana Blake saw the relief on her patient’s face, it was one of the most gratifying feelings she could imagine.

“I just can’t tell you how gratifying it is to help people fight their pain,” Blake said. “Sometimes, they are in so much pain that they are crying when they get here. That kind of pain affects their lives.

“I feel so thankful that this is where God put me,” she added.

Nearly every day, Blake and other physical therapists work to ease the excruciating pain many residents in Shelby and its surrounding counties face on a daily basis.

Whether it’s chronic neck or back pain, rehabilitating after an injury or combating a work-related injury, the hospital’s physical therapy department helps patients of all kinds reduce their pain and improve their mobility.

Shelby Baptist Rehab Services, which has facilities at the Alabaster hospital, at the Greystone and Pelham YMCA facilities and at Shelby Sports Rehab in Alabaster, regularly serves nearly 300 in- and outpatient clients every month, Blake said.

The hospital clinic offers physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy, and the Shelby Sports, Greystone and Pelham YMCA facilities offer physical therapy.

Most of the clinics’ cases involve neck and back pain, which is followed closely by sports-related injuries, she said.

“Some of the patients will come in, and they have been seeking medical treatment for years,” Blake said. “When they get here, I can find out what’s wrong, a lot of times, on their first or second visit.

“Sometimes, the patient will have a long history of chronic pain when they arrive here,” she added. “I may not be able to get rid of their chronic pain, but I can get it to a manageable level.”

After the clinic helps patients reduce or eliminate their pain, the physical therapists show the patients ways to continue to keep their pain from returning or worsening, she said.

The Shelby Baptist physical therapy department recently moved into a 5,500-square-foot facility in the hospital, which allowed physicians to offer more therapy services.

During treatment, the therapists develop a “trusting relationship” with the patients, and look to treat the patients on a spiritual level, Blake said.

“If you come here, we taking care of you as a whole person,” Blake said. “We always try to identify the structure of the problem, and get to the root cause of it.”

Because the Shelby Baptist physical therapy clinic is the largest outpatient physical therapy facility in the county, it networks with private physicians throughout the county.

“We have 300-plus physicians that we accept referrals from,” Blake said. “Once we do an evaluation of the patient here, we send the doctor the info we got the very next day.

“If a patient is referred to us, we need to communicate whatever we find so it helps them to better treat the patient,” she added.

For more information on the physical therapy clinic, contact Blake at 620-8887, or e-mail dana.blake@bhsala.com.