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Meet Jane Connely

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jane Connely.

Jane, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I had just finished my stroke certification and was writing my thesis, when my Dad had a massive heart attack and stroke. I remember sitting in the ICU watching a machine move his chest up and down and feeling so incredibly lost. The fear was incredible and the heaviness so crushing. I remember receiving texts from my clients and families of clients who I had seen in this very same environment as their therapist. It was a surreal and pivotal moment in my life and my career. I did not know then that I would begin this venture, but I knew that my passion had expanded and I would not be the same person or practitioner again.

Having a stroke or acquiring a brain injury to the general public might sound like a death sentence, but as an Occupational Therapist and a neuro specialist, I have seen so many people create full and meaningful lives post brain injury. I love being a part of this journey. Heal The Brain With Jane (HTBWJ) grew out of a desire to help the brain-injured community have better care, high-quality education, and a firm grasp on how possible the life they want is.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Oh boy, it has not been a smooth road at all. If you thought occupational therapy sounded obscure, a neuro occupational therapist is even more so. Just putting into words what I do is where I started. I began a blog and started telling some stories and giving away free education about stroke and brain injury. I felt for a long time that I was writing to a couple of my sisters and several friends who felt obligated to read my emails, but everything shifted when my friend Joe Borges reached out to me. Joe has a podcast called the neuronerds and he is passionate about serving the brain-injured community. He connected me with many young survivors all over the world and I began to take myself more seriously.

Beginning a non-profit while having two small children and working a full-time rehab job was not easy. At first, I really wanted to keep doing both, but I got more and more frustrated with the current outpatient model. I began to resent the in and out, fix em’, and collect the payment style of care. A twelve visit model does not work for a person who has acquired a disability. Finally, I decided to begin working privately. In my private practice, I can see people for as long or as little as they need.

We’d love to hear more about your practice.
I received my training at USC for occupational therapy and decided to specialize in neurological conditions. I received my Neurodevelopmental Treatment certification and am currently working on my hand certification. I love working with post-stroke, post-TBI, and post-concussion clients.

I am known for my big personality, enthusiasm, and intensity. I can be very exacting when working with my clients. I am known for being relentless and having high expectations of my clients, but also for my warmth and ability to listen.

With traditional outpatient OT, you will go to a clinic for six weeks, twice a week, and a lovely practitioner will do everything they can to get you where you need to go. They do not have time to visit your home, spend a half an hour speaking with your partner, or write you emails and texts in between sessions. You will get a generic exercise sheet with some quick notes and during the session, they will do their best to adapt your activities.

My private practice gives me the time to really treat every client that walks through my door how I would like to be treated or how I would like my family member to be treated. I have the time and freedom to give really good personalized care that is not subject to the dictates of a huge corporate hospital or insurance company. I will go to your home, get to know your family, and adapt all of your activities. You receive personalized exercises and activities with your own pictures in your own environment. You have access to me as needed and as things come up.

I am very proud of the online community that has grown up around Heal The Brain With Jane. I never anticipated this amount of engagement and the support goes both ways. The more this community interacts with me the more I want to respond and grow as a practitioner.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I have many “small” big moments that I carry close to my heart. It’s difficult to say what it feels like when someone achieves their goals and is discharged from my services. It is such an emotional and triumphant feeling for my client and for me.

I have seen this person go from not being able to walk or use their arm through unspeakable frustration with relearning all of their basic functions, to finally, returning to their life. I can’t describe the pride in seeing a client leave therapy and return to the life that they have worked so hard to build. It is beyond description.

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Image Credit:
Christian Eddings

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