Celebrating Rehabilitation Awareness Week with Brie Georger, OT
Outdoor loving therapist takes challenges head-on
Brie Georger is one to take on challenges. She’s a rock climber, a mountain biker, and an occupational therapist. And although she has to explain to her family again and again that her career doesn’t have anything do to with helping people figure out what job they want, she does help many people every day.
Brie resides in Colorado and finally feels like she has truly found home. After two years of the traveling therapist life, she knows she belongs where she can stay active in, and conquer, the great outdoors in Colorado with MGA.
After earning her master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Buffalo in New York, she took a job that allowed her to travel the United States and sharpen her skills as a therapist.
Soon after, she took on yet another challenge of working with the elderly population in a rehabilitation center. Finally, after working with adults of all ages, she felt it was time to put her skills to the ultimate test – children. And now, she says, she finally feels she is confident enough to make the under 18 set her focus.
“Children are definitely the most challenging and rewarding clients to work with,” she says. “I was finally ready to work with them when I moved to Colorado,” she says. She explains that she always wanted to work with children and young adults, but in the early years of her career, she didn’t feel quite ready.
Brie had specialized in Pediatric Occupational Therapy in college, but she took some time to explore her career choice after graduating. She traveled the country as a traveling OT and worked in a rehabilitation hospital for elderly patients, then she moved to Colorado in 2018. She finally felt at home amongst the state’s outdoor adventures and knew it was time to pursue her dream of working with kids.\
“A typical day isn’t really ‘typical’ anymore,” she says explaining that the COVID pandemic did affect her work but has only added another challenge she knew she could overcome. “All the therapists had to come up with a plan in April for telehealth visits,” Brie explains. “About half of my kids I visit at their homes, and half, I have virtual visits.” And she enjoys every one of them explaining that she actually feels that the telehealth visits offer a unique opportunity for the parents.
“Parents kind of miss out on seeing real-time progress with their kiddos when I’m working with them,” she explains. When she comes into the house for a session, the parents typically give her room to work with the children and support from afar, “and also maybe even have time to do something else that needs their attention,” she says. And that doesn’t always have to be the case she realized.
Brie explains that during the telehealth sessions, the parents have gotten more involved in the actual session and are working more closely with their kiddos. She’s there to facilitate the exercises and to give suggestions.
Although Brie downplays her role a bit and says nothing is harder than a parents’ job, she’s helping to create real-life skills that kids will need to rely on as they get older. “My sessions last about 45 minutes. Sometimes we work on sensory play and yoga poses,” she says. “After I get them moving around, we’ll work on fine motor coordination skills and focus on handwriting or painting.”
Brie explains how therapy in a time of a pandemic has really given parents the opportunity to see how their children are blossoming while they are with her. “I’ve really enjoyed the feeling of what it’s like to observe parents with their own kids and have this realization that we’re all in this together,” she says.
Brie will typically go to a home or visit with a family about one to two times a week with each session lasting around 45 minutes. Because of increased ‘screen time’ that children are having lately, Brie explains that any time kids spend away from technology is positive. “A lot of the kiddos that I work with have diminished developmental and social skills because of conditions such as autism she explains. “So anytime the kids are away from YouTube getting one on one interaction, learning how to play or harness their emotions is a plus.”
When it comes to working with families or parents, she urges them to trust their instincts and not worry about timelines or reaching specific milestones. “I tell parents all the time that they are the professional when it comes to understanding their kiddos. I’m the expert at occupational therapy but knowing that child is key when it comes to growth and development,” she explains.
Brie says that she encourages her families to be patient and gentle when it comes to learning. “We have to remember that these are still just kids learning new skills. Differently-abled kiddos aren’t different when it comes to learning,” she explains. “All learning takes time.”
Brie has been employed with MGA for two years and says she has never been so happy. “I love working with MGA,” she says. “I feel supported and I have flexibility in my hours. MGA really trusts me as a professional and appreciates my recommendations I love the autonomy I have, “ she says.
Because when you’re living in Colorado and the great outdoors is your playground, there’s no greater feeling than making a difference and having a fantastic work-life balance.