NORMAN — Norman Physical Therapy offers an array of outpatient services to the local community but also offers specialities that attract clients from across the state.
“I have patients that travel from the southeast corner of the state to be fitted for a custom lymphedema garment,” said Debbie McConnell, PT, CHT, MLT. “Often times, we will get a call from a local orthopedic or rheumatology physician to ask us to see a client that is in town for a custom splint or orthosis.”
Services like that are now always accessible in rural areas of Oklahoma.
McConnell brings specialties to Norman that are not provided in any other physical therapy clinic in the area.
She gained experience in her early years, working with a renowed hand surgeon who encouraged her to spend time with him seeing patients in his clinic and observing surgery. She also worked with an occupational therapist who taught her the art of making custom orthotics.
That experience led her to passing the certification exam for hand therapy the first year it was offered in 1993. McConnell remains the only certified hand therapist in Norman and one of approximately 40 in Oklahoma.
Several years after completing her certification in hand therapy, an oncology nurse asked McConnell if she had heard of a technique used for lymphedema. After finding that no therapists in the metro area were certified in this skill, McConnell called the National Institute of Health and learned that the training was offered in Germany in a two-week course.
Although this was not a viable option, she vowed to make this a priority when the training was more practical. In 2007, McConnell completed her training as a manual lymphatic therapist. These two specialties make up nearly 100 percent of her caseload.
To round out the outpatient clinic, Erin (Higgins) Allen, DPT, treats a general caseload of orthopedic clients.