Walter Reed Blog

A Great 6 Weeks in the Nation’s Capital



Washington, DC Living

If you look beyond my 5am wake up, hour and half commute each way, $16.50 metro ride, and playing Frogger with DC traffic at a stop light that never seems to have a walk sign; I was lucky enough to get a clinical rotation of a lifetime from the University of Pittsburgh. I get to spend everyday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (Bethesda, MD) working with our nation’s veterans, their families and friends, and collaborating with medical professionals to provide them to best care possible.


Patient Population

I work in the Inpatient unit treating a case-load that includes patients with spinal cord injuries, amputees, cardio-thoracic surgery, total joint replacements, TBI’s, oncology, and a variety of other patient presentations. When I pick up a consult for PT, I never know what I’m going to be getting until I start doing the chart review- which really keeps me on my toes. This past week I was able to rotate through the hospital in a variety of settings including:

  • A day spent in the OR watching a soldier who had just arrived from the Trans-Atlantic flight and went through 12 hours of emergency surgery!
  • A day in Outpatient Traumatic Brain Injury where I was able to see a NueroCom Balance Master in action. And at the end of the day, I was able to be a “patient” and go through a balance assessment myself
  • A day spent in the Outpatient amputee rehab center where patients go after I see them in inpatient and they become medically stable enough to be transferred
  • An afternoon spent in the WC clinic where MD’s, PT, OT, the patient, and a WC vendor hash out the specific long-term needs of a patient.


The Action

Pictures can speak louder than words so I will take you through a couple patients who have truly inspired me.


Mat to Wheelchair Transfer

This individual above was set to go to medical school after his graduation from the Naval Academy but he decided to defer for 2 years to be an in field medic to see what it was truly like to be in a war and what his future patients would be going through. Unfortunately, he sustained a war injury himself. This is a video of him transferring from a mat to his WC. Pretty impressive!


1 Full Mile

This individual is a quadruple amputee who is honestly one of the funniest people I have ever met. Upon being introduced to him, he stuck out his left below-the-elbow amputation to shake hands with me. I greeted him with a shake of his residual limb, for which he promptly screamed out in pain!! Fake pain, of course, but it scared me half to death!! He promptly laughed, stating “gets you new kids every time”. This is a video of him 1 lap from his finish of walking a mile on his “shorties”. (If you look at the gentlemen walking backwards, you’ll notice he had a below the knee amputation. They make quite the comedic pair if I do say so myself).


 Return to Sport


At Walter Reed the goal for the Wounded Warriors is to get them back to everything they did before the injury. This includes hunting and fishing trips. Adaptive boxing and jiu jitsu zu (pictured above).


Sporting Equipment


They also adapt “regular” sporting equipment to each patient’s specific needs. The patient seen below is an avid biker who sustained a hemipelvectomy and with the help of a well-fitted prosthetic, is still able to enjoy riding his cycle.


Never Far from Pittsburgh!



And in case you were worried about me losing my Pittsburgh pride, don’t worry I’m getting my Pennsylvania fix in here in Maryland.

Kelsey R

July 25, 2012 |

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