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Special Tree Blog

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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Special Tree Support Services Help Voc Clients to 'Test the Waters'

As clients progress through Special Tree’s vocational training programs, many have developed strong work-readiness skills for community-based employment but haven’t put them to the test to make sure they’re ready to successfully get and keep a job.

That was the case with Paul, a vocational client since 2009, whose goal was to obtain a job as a dietary aide.  According to Special Tree Vocational Counselor Tara Forster, one way to gauge if clients like Paul are ready to work in the community is through natural support work experiences at Special Tree’s NeuroCare Center.  “With housekeeping, laundry, and kitchen service work available, it’s a win-win approach that allow clients to test out their work-readiness skills without a job coach,” she said.

Tara works closely with Vickie Lambert, Special Tree’s Manager...

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Special Tree Patients Build American Flag With 8K Plastic Army Men

Patients in Special Tree’s Vocational program went all in to honor Veterans as part of the Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall which stopped in Hamburg, MI over the Labor Day weekend.  Patients showed their patriotism by crafting a 4 ft. x 6 ft. American flag made entirely of plastic army men which was displayed with other local memorials at the Moving Wall, a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., which has traveled the U.S. for the past 25 years.

The idea for the flag came up when Steve Kozmor, the Woodshop Coordinator at Special Tree’s Industrial Operations Center (IOC) in Wayne, MI, attended a local VFW event and met a woman who suggested constructing a memorial for the Moving Wall’s visit to Hamburg.  Steve became involved with the VFW a few years ago through his friend Bob who served...

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Spotlight | Celebrating our Day Treatment and Vocational Services Teams!

We're celebrating Day Treatment Services and Vocational Services Week here at Special Tree!  Get to know one member of the team Brooke Foulds, CTRS, new Clinical Team Leader for the Mid-Michigan Day Treatment (DTS) and Pediatric Rehabilitation programs.  Brooke is a Certified Recreational Therapist and has worked with Special Tree's Pediatric Rehabilitaiton team at the Neuro Skills Center in Troy for the past three years.  She recently moved to Midland to be a part of the exciting expansion of Special Tree's DTS and Pediatric programming in Mid-Michigan.

Special Tree has Day Treatment Services and Vocational Services programs in Wayne, Oakland, and Midland Counties that strive to provide the best qualtiy of life to our clients through community outings, recreational activities, community-based job coaching, vocatio...

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Special Tree's Summer Program is Going Strong

Under the Big Top
Week 3 of Discover! Summer took our students on a trip to the circus! The week started with circus-themed movement games and therapeutic activities including everything from parachute games and a ring toss to building your own stilts and circus yoga. 

Highlights for the week included learning to juggle and a visit from the Detroit Circus Show. Even though juggling was a hard task to learn, the kids had a blast – and all the hand and eye coordination involved in this therapeutic activity was great for their motor skills.  During the interactive Detroit Circus Show, the kids had a chance to help the magicians with some of their magic tricks which required a lot of focus to understand how tricks were done. 

Marvel Madness
Captain America, Iron Man,...

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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 ou...

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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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