Full Range Of Rehab Services

By Gwen Ing
Interviewed by Melissa Moniz
Wednesday - June 23, 2010
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Gwen Ing
REHAB at Aiea Clinic Manager

Where did you receive your schooling?

I’m a registered occupational therapist and I went to school at the University of Washington.

How long have you been practicing?

I’m going to say 20-plus years so that I don’t date myself.


What is your role as clinic manager?

Half of the time I treat patients, which I love. The other half of the time I spend supervising a multidisciplinary team of therapists, which include occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech pathologists.

Speech pathologist Robin Palama using VitalStim to facilitate a patient’s swallowing in therapy

Do services at the Aiea clinic mirror the Nuuanu clinic?

Like the Nuuanu clinic, we offer the full range of rehabilitation therapy services. However, our focus is a little different. We’re a neighborhood clinic, located in Pearlridge Center, and we service the patients who are in Leeward Oahu and the surrounding area. Proportionately, we serve more orthopedic patients than the Nuuanu clinic.

As part of the REHAB Hospital family of clinics, we can offer our patients a wider range of services, expertise and the latest in technology for rehabilitation than other neighborhood physical therapy clinics. We also have a great depth of knowledge with neurological conditions, as we have all of the doctors and staff at the REHAB Hospital of the Pacific as resources for complex cases.

One unique treatment being used at the clinic is Fluidotherapy. What is it used for?

We’ve been using Fluidotherapy for about 10 years now. It is very effective for hand-injured patients who have carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and stiffness from fractures. It is frequently used on the hand for carpal tunnel syndrome before and/or after surgery, but it can be used for extremities with other sensory issues, stiffness or pain.

How does Fluidotherapy work?

Fluidotherapy is a dry heating agent that’s very similar to a dry whirlpool. There are heated particles that are moving in warm air, so you can put a body part into the cabinet and it will float and be bathed in the warm particles to improve flexibility of the muscles. You can adjust the temperature and the agitation, and the patient can exercise at the same time.

Gwen Ing assisting a hand-injured patient with exercise in the fluidotherapy unit

Another technology you use is VitalStim. What is it and what is it used for?

The VitalStim is a neuromuscular electrical-stimulation device. It uses small electrical currents to stimulate the muscles’ responsible for swallowing. At the same time, REHAB’s trained speech therapists help patients re-educate their muscles. VitalStim together with traditional therapy has been successful in enabling patients to progress from non-oral diets to being able to swallow normal consistencies. This simple task, to be able to swallow independently, can be a huge quality-of-life issue. Imagine not being able to eat a Spam musubi!


Are there any other new technologies or treatments that have really helped patients?

It’s not new, but I would like to mention that the physical therapists at our clinic have a knee program that has been very successful. I think the key to the success is that the treatment is one-on-one and hands-on by registered therapists, therefore each treatment program is individualized, and the therapist-patient relationship is very good. Patients receive therapy in a warm and caring environment, which sets the tone for meeting their goals.

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