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Successful Start to Special Tree's Summer Program for Kids and Teens

Since the Special Tree Discover! Summer program kicked-off on June 17th, the students have enjoyed a range of therapeutic activities ranging from art projects and community outings to cooking meals and building pre-vocational skills training through the Youth Work Program. 

Therapeutic Art
Throughout the summer, our students engage in art projects devised by the Recreational Therapy team to help build functional skills such as fine motor skills, visual processing, and more.  Each project relates to the theme for the week.  For Week 1, themed  “Farm to Table”,  the kids did Udder Painting and planted a garden; followed by making DIY bouncy balls during Week 2, themed “Let’s Have a Ball.”

Community-Based Outings
When doing community outings such as...

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strawberry vocational community

Vocational Spotlight | Youth Work Program

Although Special Tree client DeAndre just graduated from high school, he has done light assembly work, worked as a peer mentor in Special Tree’s Discover Summer program, and held community-based jobs at Hollywood Market and Buffalo Wild Wings.  How did he build up such an impressive work history by the age of 18? 

At Special Tree, younger clients like DeAndre first begin developing their employability skills through the Discover Summer Youth Work Program.  Every day throughout out the 10-week pediatric therapy program, teens ages 14 and up participate in various pre-vocational job training experiences.  “We encourage our teen clients to work during the summer,” said Tara Forster, Special Tree Vocational Counselor.  “It helps them to start building a creditable work history as well as transferable skills which puts...

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motorcycle reunion

Residential Outing Leads to Emotional Reunion for Client

Special Tree has a fabulous reputation for helping clients achieve the best outcomes possible. But sometimes an outcome turns out to be bigger and better than a client could ever have imagined.  That’s what happened to Keith M., a client at our Riverview location, who was enjoying a night out with staff on April 13th as part of his Quality of Life (QOL) goal when the unexpected occurred.

Keith’s goal was to have a steak at Outback Steakhouse and then shoot some pool.  QOL goals are based on a Quality of Life Survey that every residential client takes at the beginning of the year to identify three obtainable goals they would like to accomplish to enhance their quality of life.  Residential House Managers and their staff, plus any other representative involved (case manager, guardian), help each client to accomplish...

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speech language

Former Patient Thanks Special Tree SLP for Life-Changing Treatment

Better Hearing and Speech Month is a great time to recognize Speech and Language Pathologists like Beth Brookens who make a big difference in the lives of our patients recovering from brain and spinal cord injury.  Here's what one former patient had to say about how Beth changed her life.

I suffered a mild brain injury in an automobile accident. My vision, speech, and memory were affected. My physician recommended speech and vision therapy, I put it off as long as possible. I had done a pretty good job hiding my deficits for almost a year. Going to therapy to me was admitting I still had issues. It sounds silly now, but I had a difficult time accepting that I had a brain injury. Before my accident, I worked a professional job as a nurse manager, managed my family, maintained a home, and was very invol...

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lab services team quality

Special Tree's Lab Services Team Honored for Quality Excellence

In just two years, Special Tree’s Lab Services has gone from new start-up department to winner of the 2019 Lynn Slevin Quality Award.

“Lab Services is one of the truly great new programs at Special Tree,” said Chief Quality Officer Mark MacAleese who presented the award at Special Tree's Ol’ Timer’s Luncheon, an annual event for employees with 10 or more years of service. The fully accredited in-house lab runs many common diagnostic tests and screenings which helps our doctors to treat clients more quickly and accurately.

The annual award recognizes outstanding quality excellence at Special Tree and was established in 2012 to honor the work of retired Quality Officer Lynn Slevin.

“This award is a great opportunity to recognize each other and the great work that’s happening at Special Tree,” said Mark....

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Special Tree Awards Healthcare Scholarships to Local Graduating Seniors

Special Tree is excited to announce the recipients of their Healthcare and Rehabilitation Scholarship for 2019.  Each of the 13 recipients was awarded a $1000 scholarship to pursue their education in a health-related field.

This year, Special Tree awarded cash scholarships totaling $13,000 to high school graduating seniors from Michigan school districts in communities where Special Tree has a rehabilitation facility. Since 1995, Special Tree has contributed $150,000 to 175 Michigan students as part of their annual scholarship program.

Students receiving Special Tree’s 2019 Healthcare and Rehabilitation Scholarships are:

Downriver Area

  • Elizabeth Jensen, a graduating senior from Flat Rock High School, who will attend Michigan State Univers...
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boaz basketball rehab

Team Member Spotlight | Boaz Cheboiywo

What is your role here at Special Tree?

I’m a Clinical Exercise Physiologist and manage the DTS-Fitness/Exercise Rehabilitation Program. I have a master’s degree in Clinical Exercise Physiologist.


What’s a typical week like in your exercise program?

Every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, I work with our outpatient clients at the Troy Neuro Skills Center in the morning and then drive to the NeuroCare Center in Romulus where I work with clients in our subacute, outpatient, and Wayne County residential clients in the afternoon.On Wednesday mornings, I lead an exercise program at the Romulus Neuro Skills Center for Day Treatment clients.On Fridays, I drive to our Westwood and Cottage Community Residences to work with clients in a home-setting. Our residential clien...

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vision therapy program

Special Tree Adds Visagraph to Vision Therapy Program for Brain Injury Rehabilitation

Recognizing the need to address vision limitations after brain injury, Special Tree screens for vision problems with every patient.

After three separate eye surgeries to repair detached retinas, resulting in 75 days total spent face-down to recover fully, Special Tree CEO Joseph Richert knows first-hand how powerful vision can be in everyday functioning.

That’s one reason he is passionate about evaluating all patients with brain injury for vision challenges when they first come to Special Tree. Another is simply the good sense it makes to screen patients for impaired vision at the outset; something that is often overlooked and which can have a tremendous impact on rehabilitation and recovery.

“About 70 percent of your sensory nerve fibers are vision, just vision,” says Dr. Danna Haba,...

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trivia contest staff

Residential Team Members Face-off at Trivia Showdown

When it comes to team building events, our fabulous Residential Services crew really like to go all in to make them as fun and engaging as possible for RSTs (Residential Services Technicians) at Special Tree’s community residences.  At their most recent and highly anticipated event, four residential teams gathered at Rosie O’Grady’s in Ferndale to compete in the final Residential Town Hall Trivia Championship which was live streamed on Special Tree’s intranet.

Watch the hIghlights video:

Town Hall meetings are an informal way for our Residential Management team to...

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VR virtual reality therapy

How Virtual Reality is Helping Special Tree Treat TBI

Virtual Reality isn’t just for gamers. For therapists like Courtney Fankhauser, Certified Recreational Specialist at Special Tree, it’s a fantastic tool to motivate patients recovering from traumatic brain injury.

“We appreciate the immersive experience VR offers patients,” shares Fankhauser, “And that it allows us to follow their progress.”

In virtual reality, or “VR”, patients interact with 3-D, computer-generated environments to experience activities like baseball, travel, mountain climbing and more. Therapists are able to watch what patients are doing in real time via monitor, then store data from their sessions to track trends over time.

At Special Tree, virtual reality has provided a powerful method to engage patients in the rehabilitation process.

“One of our patients, Josh, uses vir...

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