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Working Out with Abbi

There are two things Abbi Wells likes people to know about her. One is that she’s a big fan of Betty Boop—her room is filled with the cartoon character’s memorabilia. The other is.....


There are two things Abbi Wells likes people to know about her. One is that she’s a big fan of Betty Boop—her room is filled with the cartoon character’s memorabilia. The other is that she wants to lead a more independent lifestyle without having to rely on staff.

NOW, HER QUEST FOR INDEPENDENCE IS HAVING A POSITIVE INFLUENCE ON OTHERS AT SITKA GROUP HOME WHERE WELLS LIVES.

Because of limited mobility and flexibility issues, Wells needs assistance with repositioning and transferring to and from her wheelchair. She also has limited use of her left hand. In order to help her become more independent, staff assist her with physical therapy exercises, consisting of passive range of motion and strengthening exercises. Frontline Leader Becky Trainer-Carlson said Wells works hard, but the exercises are difficult and she doesn’t always enjoy them. “Abbi started to struggle with depression and slowly put up a wall when communicating to staff.”

She began to gain weight and lose muscle mass, which took a toll on her independence.

Knowing that Wells has a competitive streak, Sitka staff challenged her to a physical therapy competition of her design. Trainer-Carlson said Wells came back to staff with a deal: “I’ll do my PT, but in return I get to pick an exercise you have to do for every PT exercise I do.”

Staff took on the challenge. Trainer-Carlson said that not only did the competition make the exercises more fun for everyone, Wells also discovered that others wanted to share in her success. Eventually, she started inviting her friends to join her workouts. “Before long Abbi looked at herself as a role model, someone that others looked up to for inspiration to keep working hard.”

And Wells’ friends have made progress in gaining independence too. “Kelli is now able to put on her own coat with minor staff support,” added Trainer-Carlson.

Wells is also continuing to make strides towards her goal. Trainer-Carlson said she is now able to stand and transfer slowly when she needs to use the restroom or move in or out of a chair. She can now reposition without staff support and she’s able to use her iPad, all thanks to a little friendly competition.

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