“I Love the Holistic Approach To Treating Not Just the Condition, but the Whole Person”
STISIM Drive has long been the clear industry leader in driving simulation technology for clinical therapy. Why? It’s very simple … our products have been developed with clinical therapists, for clinical therapists.
For us, that collaboration, which dates back over 20 years, is essential to our ability to deliver the most relevant, user-friendly and valuable driving assessment tools possible for clinical application. It’s because of this invaluable clinician-centric insight that STISIM Drive continues to contribute to improved patient outcomes in clinics around the world.
Today, that insight continues to be applied on a daily basis, and we are delighted to say that our full-time team includes dedicated clinical therapy specialists, such as Bridget Mathis, MOT, OTR.
We recently sat down with Bridget to learn a bit more about her life and background:
Tell us a bit about your non-professional life. Who is Bridget Mathis?
I grew up primarily on the East Coast, as my father was in the Coast Guard. When he retired, we settled in Connecticut where I went to college and later to OT school in Massachusetts. I love attending sporting events and have the goal of going to all MLB stadiums! In my free time I travel to see family and friends all across the country. I enjoy hiking and visiting national parks as well as spending time at the beach. I have my constant companion Lucy, a mini schnauzer, who keeps me on my toes. When I’m home I enjoy cooking and hosting events as well as gardening and playing pickleball.
You didn’t start your career as an occupational therapist. What career path did you initially follow?
I started my healthcare career as a dental hygienist. I worked for eight years in private practice and was a clinical instructor at a college in CT. I served overseas in Papua New Guinea for medical missions and lived in Portland OR for a few years while I was a hygienist. I enjoyed seeing patients regularly, however I felt I wanted to do more for clients on a broader scope.
How/why did you decide to go into occupational therapy?
My mother had autoimmune disorders and started to develop neuropathy in her hands and feet. This is when your nerves start to die, and you lose feeling. I saw her struggle to continue doing the things she loved such as cooking and gardening. This facilitated me wanting to learn more ways to help her and figure out how to keep her doing the things she loved. She was a physical therapist and always had a heart for the elderly. It was her boss that suggested I investigate Occupational Therapy as she felt I would be a natural fit.
What is it about the OT profession that most appeals to you?
I was drawn to OT because of the wide variety of settings OTs can work in. I love the holistic approach to treating not just the condition, but the whole person. One of the best aspects to being an OT is coming alongside someone in their time of need and problem solving together to help them be as independent as possible. As OT’s we get to be so creative and I enjoy the processes of getting to know my clients, assessing their needs, incorporating their family, and setting them up for success.
Are there any specific examples of helping a patient that really sticks out for you .. that was really meaningful to you as an OT practitioner?
This is a hard question! There are so many stories of amazing patients I’ve had the privilege of serving. But my favorite client was an elderly gentleman who had a very dry sense of humor. He didn’t say much and wasn’t as outgoing as most of my clients, but we developed a very special bond. He had a calendar of “funnies” or jokes and each week he would email me the joke of the day! After his wife passed away, he didn’t like going to the dining room anymore within his Independent living facility. This is very common amongst the elderly, especially for men as eating alone is hard! I noticed that he was losing weight and it concerned me that he was sitting alone most of the day. So, I started a tradition of Friday Night Date Nights. I would run out to get us a hamburger, enchiladas, or pizza after work and we would sit around on Friday evenings and have dinner together. Honestly, I think he helped me more than I helped him. He meant the world to me, and I loved sitting and listening to him talk about his WWII stories, his beautiful wife, and his adoring family. He taught me many life lessons and I’ll forever be grateful for his friendship.
You’ve been instrumental in helping develop the STISIM Drive product’s clinical application, providing input that has enhanced its ability to help clinical therapists improve patient outcomes. For you, what makes this driving simulation technology so special for occupational therapists?
As OTs we are always striving to incorporate functional tasks within our treatment sessions to simulate real-world scenarios. Using the driving simulator allows therapists to see a patient “in action.” Not only do you gain metrics from the drives to track patient progress, but you get to observe your patient perform a complex task. And the best part is patients LOVE using driving simulators. So for me that is a win win.
From a business perspective, what can clinic administrators expect to get from having STISIM Drive in their clinics? What’s the value for them?
For administrators they are making the commitment to invest not only in technology, but in their therapists, clients, and the community. By purchasing a driving simulator, they are encouraging therapists to integrate technology into patient care while boosting patient engagement. The driving simulator captures data and metrics to assist clinics with reimbursement and evidence for additional therapy visits. They are able to market to the community that they have advanced technology and are helping to ensure safety within the community they serve.
Finally, what’s one thing that most people don’t know about you that they should?
I love all things interior design! I would love to have a home staging business someday and even specialize in home modifications for seniors. I love looking at floor plans and blueprints for homes to assess the flow and function of the way the home is set up! My mom and I always used to cut out floor plans for houses that we loved!
Bridget will soon be attending the AOTA Inspire Conference & Expo, the largest annual gathering of occupational therapists in the world. While there, she’ll be serving as the moderator for a panel discussion that will follow the world premiere of the new documentary about the OT profession, Finding Me In OT. Bridget will lead the conversation that will include filmmaker, podcaster and OT, Rhiannon Crispe; as well as Kavita Murthi, MS, OTR. The event is an official education event of the conference and will take place on Thursday, April 20, at 5:30pm CT, at the Loews Kansas City Hotel.
Want to connect with Bridget to learn more about STISIM Drive for clinical application? Send her a message via our website HERE