Rehabilitation Therapy

Blowing Rock Hospital Transitioning to Post-Acute Care Center

(September 12, 2013) – As part of a long-term strategy, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) announces the transition of Blowing Rock Hospital from a Critical Access Hospital to a post-acute care and rehabilitation center. Effective October 1, 2013, Blowing Rock Hospital will become Blowing Rock Rehabilitation & Davant Extended Care Center. Rehabilitation patients and long-term care residents will continue to receive the highest quality of care.

This transition will require the discontinuation of the Blowing Rock Emergency Department and acute care services of the facility. This change is part of the journey towards the rehabilitation and post-acute care model outlined for the new facility, Chestnut Ridge at Blowing Rock. For area residents and visitors in need of emergency, surgical or acute care, Watauga Medical Center is available, less than 7 miles away, in Boone.

Construction on Chestnut Ridge will begin in the spring of 2014, with an anticipated completion date of late summer 2015. It will be located on a 68-acre tract in Blowing Rock. For more information about Chestnut Ridge, please visit

Blowing Rock Medical Clinic, the practice of Dr. Charles Davant, III and Dr. John Davis, will maintain the same level of service and continue to care for patients Monday – Friday 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM and 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM, as well as Saturday 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM. Blowing Rock Medical Clinic is adjacent to the Blowing Rock Rehabilitation & Davant Extended Care Center at 418 Chestnut Drive, Blowing Rock.

For more information about Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, visit

The Rehabilitation Center Provides Hope for Doug Rhodes

(April 26, 2013) – Doug Rhodes, a North Wilkesboro resident who retired at 48, looked forward to spending more time playing the piano and riding horses. That was until he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.  Doug Rhodes and Kelly Conrad, PT, DPT

Devastated by the prognosis, Rhodes found The Rehabilitation Center (TRC) at Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS), to be worth the drive up the mountain. The therapists that work with Rhodes specialize in neurological disorders like Parkinsons, stroke, head injury, balance and dizziness and other conditions.

“The staff at The Rehabilitation Center specialize in neurological disorders like mine,” said Rhodes. “Other facilities do not offer this kind of treatment.”

At first, Rhodes was overcome by fear, until he met Kelly Conrad, Physical Therapist (PT, DPT).

“Kelly took the fear out of Parkinson’s for me,” Rhodes said. “She was able to explain my symptoms, and give me the knowledge base to set the foundation for therapy.”

Rhodes had weekly physical therapy appointments with Conrad that focused on education and retaining movement such as walking and getting in and out of a car. For Doug, therapy also included working on his ability to mount a horse. Conrad refers to each new skill as adding to the tool kit that provides confidence and independence.

“In addition to the targeted exercise prescribed, a huge part of neurological physical therapy is the education piece,” said Conrad. “When the patient understands how their body and movement have changed, it takes the fear out of these disorders. When we can take steps to make life better, it is very rewarding for myself and the patient.”

The Rehabilitation Center team, located at The Wellness Center and at Cannon Memorial Hospital, offers a wide variety of comprehensive multidisciplinary services including neurologic physical therapy, orthopaedics, occupational therapy, speech and language pathology, women’s health, cancer rehabilitation, balance and dizziness, Lymphedema, geriatrics, pediatrics and chronic pain.

Michelle Forest, an Occupational Therapist who also works with Rhodes says, “It is wonderful to have a patient that is so excited about Occupational Therapy and makes sure to fit it into his busy schedule. It truly motivates me, as a therapist, to see such improvements in his quality of life.”

Occupational Therapy focused on the alignment of Rhodes’ fingers to assist him in playing the piano and holding onto the reigns when riding horses. Special splints were fabricated to assist with exercises that improve fine motor coordination and the strength in his hand.

The Rehabilitation Center has been able to meet Rhodes needs in every respect. He recently completed his physical therapy plan and has enrolled in the THRIVE program. THRIVE is a medically supervised exercise program at the Wellness Center that transitions participants from more acute phases of chronic disease management to wellness.

“Kelly was able to help me with her knowledge, time, encouragement and strategies. It has been about six years since my diagnosis and I’m still riding horses,” said Rhodes with a grin.

For more information about The Rehabilitation Center of ARHS, call (828) 268-9043 or visit

Occupational Therapy Helps Individuals Live Life to Its Fullest

(April 25, 2013) – While April has been designated Occupational Therapy Month by the American Occupational Therapy Association, many people may not be aware of the services an occupational therapist can provide. From a holistic perspective, with the focus of adapting the environment to fit the needs of their patient, an occupational therapist and the patient become a therapy team.
Occupational Therapy (OT) services typically include:
  • Customized treatment programs to improve one’s ability to perform daily activities
  • Comprehensive home and job site evaluations with adaptation recommendations
  • Performance skills assessments and treatment
  • Adaptive equipment recommendations and usage training
  • Guidance to family members and caregivers.
According to Jeanne Bradshaw, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System Executive Director of Rehabilitation and the Wellness Center, ARHS has a growing and talented team of Occupational Therapists.  “They work in all of our settings across the healthcare system from Acute Care and Outpatient Rehabilitation at Cannon Memorial Hospital and Watauga Medical Center to Home Health and Blowing Rock Hospital,” she said. “Where we used to have one to two OTs across the system, we now are seven to eight strong. They are making a difference in the lives of our patients, but also are making a difference to our organization, as they are integral members of the ARHS Rehabilitation team.”

For more information about Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, visit or call The Rehabilitation Center of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System in Boone at (828) 268-9043; in Linville at (828) 737-7520; at Watauga Medical Center Inpatient OT (828) 262-4173; or at Blowing Rock Hospital (828) 295-3136.

To find out more about occupational therapy and how it might help you, visit the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Web site,

October is National Physical Therapy Month

In October, we celebrate the many ways physical therapists (PT) and physical therapist assistants (PTA) can help improve quality of life by restoring and improving a person’s ability to move.

Physical Therapy Month 2012
Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) has PTs and PTAs restoring quality of life all across our healthcare system”, says Jeanne Bradshaw, PT, Executive Director of Rehabilitation and Wellness Center.

If you are one of many people who experience low back pain, for example, a physical therapist can help. If you have had a running injury or want to maintain your ability to run as you age, a physical therapist can help. If you are experiencing impairments from Bell palsy, diabetes, frozen shoulder, stroke, knee replacement or pelvic pain, to name but a few conditions, a physical therapist can help.

“Physical Therapy is crucial to recovery for patients in many settings, including Home Health, Skilled Nursing, the Wellness Center – THRIVE program and Hospital Inpatient and Outpatient care” says Bradshaw.  “Losing your ability to move because of pain or problems with balance, strength or range of motion, significantly impact a person’s independence and quality of life.”

ARHS is constantly looking at ways to improve care.  Currently, a team of outpatient therapists at Watauga Medical Center and Cannon Memorial Hospital are working together to implement new evidence-based guidelines for low back pain, in preparation for a new fast-access back pain program.

“We are interested in the ways that early therapy intervention can reduce costs of care,”  says Bradshaw.

In many cases, a physical therapist can work to manage or eliminate pain without medication and its side effects. Physical therapy may even be an alternative to surgery, in many cases. A physical therapist will examine you and develop a plan of care using treatment techniques to promote your ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. If you are looking for an evidence-based, cost-effective, conservative approach to health care, then a physical therapist may be right for you.

Physical therapists are required to complete a graduate degree – either a master’s or clinical doctorate – from an accredited education program and pass a state-administered national exam before practicing. By 2015, all physical therapists will graduate with a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree.

To learn more about physical therapy and other rehabilitation therapies available through Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, visit

Hawkins Provides Sports Medicine Support to Avery High

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) recently welcomed Joe Hawkins, MA, LAT, ATC, EMT-P, a nationally certified Athletic Trainer, to our Rehabilitation Center team in Linville. Hawkins will work as an Athletic Trainer at Avery High School providing education to help prevent injuries, treatment of existing conditions and frontline sports medicine care for injuries and urgent situations that may occur.

Joe Hawkins

“Since starting with ARHS in August, he has already screened many injuries on the sidelines, addressed old injuries from last year and sent a few students to the hospital for assessment and treatment,” shared Jeanne Bradshaw, Executive Director of Rehabilitation and Wellness Center for ARHS. “He has had 360+ student visits, not counting taping, and has referred more than 21 students to Cannon Memorial Hospital or local doctors’ offices for x-rays, MRI’s, CTs, ECHOs and ACL reconstruction consultations.”

Hawkins comes to ARHS from Lees McRae College where he was the Head Athletic Trainer.  He has over 22 years experience, including 15 years of professional work with the New York Mets and the Chicago Cubs.

“Joe brings a great deal of experience to our system,” shared Jay Smith, Athletic Director for Avery High School. “Our student athletes now have a full-time person at school, not only to monitor at the games, but to do rehabilitation during lunch and before practice. He is also available on Saturday mornings.”

A well known member of the Linville community, Hawkins received his bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of North Carolina -Charlotte.  He then earned his master’s degree in Sports Medicine from the University of Alabama.  He is certified as an instructor of the American Heart Association in Basic Life Support and Advanced Cardiac Life Support and is a certified paramedic with the Linville Central Rescue Squad and Avery County EMS.

“Joe’s certifications mean that he can provide pre-hospital care, if a serious injury occurs,” said Bradshaw. “He is a wonderful asset to have at local athletic events.”

ARHS’s vision, to build a healthcare system that results in healthier individuals and enhanced quality of life, is strengthened by Hawkins’ presence. By providing sports medicine support to Avery High School, students athletes have access to strength and conditioning professionals that will work with them to help prevent injuries, as well as receive immediate attention if an injury does occur.

Smith continues, “This partnership gives our kids the best possible care. When an injury occurs, Joe can treat it or ensure that the student gets to the Emergency Room and treated in a timely manner. It is a win win for Avery County athletics.”

For more information about the The Rehabilitation Center of ARHS or the ARHS Athletic Training Program, call 828-737-7520.