Meet Your Rehab Director, Cathy
Cathy Gravish has been the Rehab Director at Vienna for 3 years. She started practicing physical therapy back in 1979 in home health, retired from that industry in 2010, and has since been helping families at Vienna. In addition to Physical Therapy, Cathy is unique as a Rehab Director since she is also a certified Yoga instructor. She has been practicing yoga for nearly 40 years, and after a battle with breast cancer in 2001, she found peace in yoga, and decided to help others going through similar situations. She now incorporates her skills from yoga to her physical therapy practice. Today Cathy oversees all of Vienna’s physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists, and plays a vital role in helping families discharge.
VIENNA: What made you decide to go into physical therapy?
CATHY: I grew up and my mother was a nurse and I knew I wanted to do something in healthcare. She’s the one who actually encouraged me into physical therapy, and you have to remember this is back in the 70s and she said, “Go into therapy! You’re in healthcare but you don’t have to work any nights or weekends!” At that time I was a very competitive person and it was a very competitive program to get into, so the challenge of getting in was a big draw to me. I did some volunteer work and I really enjoyed it and thought this was is a job I would love. And it has been, for forty years. It’s been a great profession and I feel very honored that I get to slow down here at Vienna.
VIENNA: What’s been the most surprising thing about your job since you’ve been at Vienna?
CATHY: Taking on the Rehab director role was a huge eye opener. There’s been a huge learning curve, I’m still learning, but it’s been really fun. It’s been a lot of fun learning a whole other aspect of the profession.
VIENNA: What do you mean it was an eye opener?
CATHY: I didn’t realize everything that was involved. There’s a whole lot of behind the scenes, or behind the curtain stuff, that’s involved to make this department run and to keep everyone happy and all the moving pieces.
VIENNA: When did you start practicing yoga?
CATHY: I started doing a little bit of yoga back in the 70’s. I used to watch Lilias Yoga, and in fact I think she’s still putting stuff out now, probably on YouTube or something. Yoga was something fun and different than my regular gym routine. And when I found Yoga classes I connected with that because I don’t like loud noisy workouts, they rattle me. I like the quiet and peace of yoga. It’s as much for mental as physical. You can use it not only for stress release, but for things like focus.
VIENNA: You were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001. How did you find yoga to help you during that time?
CATHY: That was about the only thing I could really do consistently. When I was going through chemo I had a pick line in my arm, so I couldn’t do things lift weights, or anything to strenuous. The week of chemo was a total wash, I was leveled flat. Then the next two weeks I was kind of alright, so during those weeks yoga was the only thing I could do where I felt like I was doing something, and I was able to do it safely and comfortably.
VIENNA: What part of your time spent at Vienna that stands out to you?
CATHY: I always, even on days where I’m dragging my feet and I’m not antsy to get to work and get going, when I walk down the hall and I make eye contact with our patients and I connect with them. You know, I get to give Mickey a hug, and I get to say “Good morning” to Katie and I get to see Marj and it really just makes my day.
VIENNA: What about your work inspires you?
CATHY: The people I work with. Most of the rehab staff I work with is significantly younger than me and I’ve learned a lot from them and everyone in this setting, and the patients really keep us inspired. It’s really fun to meet these people and the majority are pretty pleasant and have goals and that’s always encouraging.
VIENNA: What do you wish more families knew before coming to rehab?
CATHY: The importance of their loved one participating in therapy and just being involved, and their role in their family member’s care, that they do have a voice, and that they need to let us know and we will seek them up. They need to feel free to connect with us because we’re accessible and we want to hear from you. They play a huge role in the discharge planning and how their family member is going to see this experience. They need to voice their concerns. At Vienna, Emily and I have a pretty good system of working with families and discharge planning starting on day one, because that’s when it has to start.
VIENNA: What exercise do you think is most beneficial for people?
CATHY: The biggest thing that people really use as a benchmark is walking. Can they walk or can they not? And helping them understand that even if they’re walking with an assisted device that still counts as walking. You’re still mobile. Some people will say, I don’t walk because I use a walker but you are walking. Getting up and moving is the most important exercise people can do.
VIENNA: How do you incorporate your yoga teachings with your physical therapy practice?
CATHY: I include a lot of the balance techniques and breathing techniques. For example I use the Tree pose often with patients. Even lunges, feet positioning, strides… I use a lot of breathing techniques to help with relaxation when that’s an issue. And really breath with movement is something important that we all use and benefit from. We don’t officially call it yoga, but it’s all the same thing. There’s always different names for what we do, but everything is related and you just use what works. The things that we do in therapy are things that I’ve been doing for 40 years, and along the way a lot of exercise systems have come and gone, but it’s really all the same thing. It comes down to you move what needs to be moved, you stabilized what needs to be stabilized, and you strengthen what needs to be strengthened, in order to live a healthy life.
VIENNA: Is there anything else you want to share?
CATHY: It’s a fabulous facility and if they’re ever in need of rehab they seriously need to come and see what’s going on here. There’s still a stigma to going to rehab. It’s being broken down a lot, as people are realizing it’s changing, but it’s still there. People are finally realizing there’s a lot of good that comes out of it. You have to see what we’ve got for yourself to really understand.