By Nelia SchrumMarch 26, 2007
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Army News Service, March 26, 2007) - When Sgt. Antonio Autrey was burned in Iraq by a blast that destroyed his Bradley fighting vehicle almost a year ago, all the former high school football receiver wanted to do was to be able to hold a football again.
Now, after almost a year in recovery at the Burn Center, the 4th Infantry Division Soldier has set his sights on bench pressing with a goal of lifting 345 pounds - something he regularly accomplished with ease before an insurgent's blast. Touring the Center for the Intrepid Friday with fellow burn patients, Autrey, 26, said he hoped the new facility would, "help me get back in shape."
Burn patients, who receive both physical therapy and occupational therapy in the Burn Center, went on an orientation tour of the Center for the Intrepid with an eye on how the rehabilitation center could help each of them once their therapists referred them for the next level of occupational and physical therapy.
To help the Center for the Intrepid with the increased patient load of Burn Center patients on their way to recovery, the Institute of Surgical Research is adding 25 staff members, including physical therapists, occupational therapist, physical therapy assistants and social workers.
Capt. Charles Quick, chief of occupational therapy at the Burn Center, arranged for the burn patients to have an in-depth look at the Center for the Intrepid.
"We want to give them the opportunity to restore function in all of their activities of daily living," Quick said. "This will give them opportunities to get back to the things they know and love."
He said that each burn patient is evaluated weekly, and when therapists at the Burn Center identify a wounded warrior as able to take on more advanced therapy, then that patient would begin a course of treatment at the Center for the Intrepid. Each referred patient will be evaluated by Lt. Col. Jennifer Menetrez, medical director for the center, who will develop a rigorous individualized therapy plan.
Dr. Rebecca Hooper, program manager, Center for the Intrepid, said that the BAMC Amputee Care Center staff worked with many patients who lost limbs as a result of burn injury prior to the opening of the center.
At the Center for the Intrepid, burn patients, who may not necessarily be amputees but have functional loss in their extremities, will also be able to benefit from a variety of therapies that are provided in the new, larger space at the rehabilitation center that sports new world-class equipment.
Hooper said that the Center for the Intrepid is not a gymnasium or a workout facility; it is a rehabilitation facility.
"Patients do not simply come in and work out, but are appointed for care using the BAMC outpatient appointment system," Hooper said. "All patients treated at the CFI have individually tailored treatment plans designed to help them meet their specific goals."
Many of the burn patients are looking forward to meeting their individualized goals and incorporating additional activities that will help with strengthening and endurance.
And for Spc. Richie Dominguez, a military policeman who suffered burns in August 2006 after an attack by a suicide truck bomber, the Center for the Intrepid's Fire Arms Training System will help him get back a critical firearms skill.
"No other rehabilitation center in the country provides firearms training and certification," Dominguez said. "As a Soldier and police officer, that is an important skill for me."
(Nelia Schrum writes for Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs)