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How Technology Has Improved Child Passenger Safety

In honor of National Child Passenger Safety Week, we’re taking a closer look at the technological advancements that have helped save countless lives - and how they came to be - with guest blogger Rob Hurlston of Fidelis Engineering Associates (FEA).

According to CDC statistics, motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the United States, based on 2017 data. During that year, almost 700 children under the age of 15 died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes and almost 120,000 were injured. While this statistic is startling, it has actually improved between 10% and 30% (per capita) since the 1970s, while the number of miles travelled by car has obviously skyrocketed.

This is due, in no small part, to the advances that we’ve seen, not only...

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Special Tree Team Members Recognized for Outstanding Contributions to Brain Injury Community

Congratulations to Special Tree’s Rene Dell, Director of Vocational and Day Treatment Services, and Char Combs, Executive Director of our Home Health partner CC Rehab, for their awards from the Brain Injury Association of Michigan (BIAMI).

Rene Dell recently received the 2020 Brain Injury Association of Michigan Volunteer Award in honor of all the time, energy, effort, and talent she has contributed as Co-Chair of the BIAMI’s Legacy Auction committee.  The committee brings in donations for the BIAMI’s annual two-week online auction held in conjunction with their Spring Tribute Legacy Dinner to fund programs for military veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury and post-tr...

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Hats Off to Respiratory Therapists! Unsung Heroes of COVID-19

Respiratory Therapists have been described as the unsung heroes of Covid-19. The global pandemic has brought these therapists into the clinical spotlight for many, but the critical role they play in patient care has long been a standard at Special Tree.

The importance of these uniquely trained clinicians, who evaluate and manage the respiratory needs of patients who have impaired lung function, has been amplified as COVID-19 began to spread, and impacted many of its victim’s ability to breathe independently. Across the nation, Respiratory Therapists showed their longstanding skill through tasks such as operating and maintaining equipment to administer oxygen or assisting with breathing (often through a "vent" or "ventilator"), managing therapy to help recover lung function, administering medications to help allevia...

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Tips for Healthy Eating During COVID-19

Maintaining a healthy diet is always important, but even more so during COVID-19.  We asked Special Tree’s Registered Dietitian Sarah Roan-Nguyen for her advice about how to stay well-nourished while at home.

Q:  If you had to self-quarantine for 14 days, what would you do to keep yourself and family well-nourished?

  • Create your own structure: I’m trying to stick to my normal meal and snack times, to maintain my own routine within this time of feeling such uncertainty/chaos. Also, my husband and I eat dinner together each night, to spend quality (screenless!) time together, which was our routine “pre-COVID”. I find it really helps to bring back some normalcy to our daily living.
    Tip: avoid going longer than 4-5 hours between meals or snack, to prevent from feeling...
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Special Tree's Wound Care Program Takes a Big Leap


What started out as an in-service for an advanced wound care device in December 2018 turned into an epic journey to rethink how we do wound care at Special Tree.   After attending the in-service, CEO Joe Richert was so intrigued by the technology, he asked Chief Nursing Officer Lela Hickonbottom how it could help our clients.  “His inquiry really inspired us to rethink our common approaches to wound care and to look for opportunities for innovation,” she said.  It was shortly after the in-service that Lela, Director of Nursing Della Little, and NCC Asst. Administrator Lisa Bray joined forces with Chief Quality Officer Mark Mac Aleese and his team to form a quality task force to evaluate our wound care program and to implement changes to take it to the next level.   

Process Improve...

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Special Tree Wins MIPex Award

The Michigan Performance Excellence Council (MiPex) has awarded Special Tree with the 2020 Michigan Performance Excellence Award, the state’s highest honor for organizations that have demonstrated outstanding performance, leadership, and operational excellence.

“This award really highlights that we are a high-quality organization,” says Mark Mac Aleese, Special Tree Chief Quality Officer. “It demonstrates our superior clinical and business outcomes and that we continually strive for agility, adaptability and overall best practices in every realm.”  He credits several factors in moving Special Tree to the level of quality to win the award including technological advancements such as adding the Zero G system and a new internal lab. 

The MIPex award program is modeled after the National Baldrige Performance Exc...

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The Art of Recovery: After a Traumatic Brain Injury, Patient Returns to College to Finish Her Design Degree

Special Tree client Jessica M. was just a year and a half from graduating from Oakland University in Rochester, MI when her life took a dramatic turn in January 2014.  

That winter, Jessica felt like things were finally falling into place.  After changing her major several times at Ferris State University, she’d transferred to Oakland University to pursue her dream of becoming a graphic designer.  Although OU was a 75 mile drive from her home in Monroe, MI, she was thriving in their design program and was looking forward to graduating to start her own design firm closer to home.  Jessica had even lined up an interview during the first week of winter classes for a nice part-time job to help pay for school.  On the day of her interview, she left campus early because it was snowing.  It was the last thing Jessica reme...

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Special Tree's New Learning Series Covers Essentials of Living With a Spinal Cord Injury

Special Tree is ramping up our SCI programming beginning with a new educational course for patients and their family/care-providers.  The course, which kicked-off on November 5th, consists of six one-hour classes presented by Special Tree clinicians on how to manage life after a spinal cord injury.  The classes are offered twice a week at the NeuroCare Campus (NCC) during the first three weeks of every month and deal with important topics such as spinal cord anatomy, skin care, bowel and bladder care, mental health, secondary health complications, and sexuality and relationships.  (Special Tree’s SCI Community Liaison Todd Hammons will continue to provide peer-to-peer support programming at NCC on the third Wednesday of every month.)

“We’re so excited to offer this course to our patients with SCI and their care-pro...

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Special Tree Welcomes New Neuropsychologist

Special Tree is pleased to welcome Emily Robinett, Ph.D.  Dr. Robinett provides neurolopsychology evaluations and works closely with our interdisciplinary team to integrate neuropsychology interventions into individualized rehabilitation services for the patients we serve.  

Along with monitoring the neurobehavioral status of inpatient patients and providing comprehensive outpatient neuropsychological evaluations, she is currently working to integrate information about each patient's current cognitive functioning into Special Tree’s Vocational Services and Pre-Driving programs.

 “Having neuropsychological evaluations in place before clients begin a specialized program helps them to focus on their strengths and to avoid likely pitfalls.”

Dr. Robinett earned a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with an emphas...

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Special Tree Celebrates 10th Consecutive Top Workplace Award

For the 10th year in a row, Special Tree has earned a Top Workplace Award from the Detroit Free Press! Special Tree was thrilled to rank #13 in the Large-Size company category, placing it in the top third of the list.  The recognition is based solely on employee feedback through a survey that covers topics like work and life balance, salary, benefits, leadership, and corporate culture.

“This award belongs to all of our employees at Special Tree,” said CEO Joe Richert.  “While it’s gratifying to have earned this recognition for ten years, we’re most thankful for our fabulous team.  The outstanding rehabilitation and care they provide to our clients throughout...

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