rehabadmin, Author at West Texas Rehab

Hearing Loss and Its Effect on Marriages

Hearing loss can put a strain on even the most stable relationships. No matter which spouse loses their hearing, both are forced to adjust to a new normal because of the challenges hearing loss presents.

Hearing loss in relationships can be challenges. Hearing loss can negatively affect established relationships if it isn’t managed properly or fully understood. This may come as a surprise given nearly one-fifth of Americans have hearing loss – hardly a small amount. However, because of its prevalence, it’s important couples are prepared to tackle the problems that may arise if hearing loss rears its ugly head.

Negative Emotions Caused by Hearing Loss

If you and your spouse are struggling with the effects of hearing loss on your relationship, you’re certainly not the only ones. A large number of couples struggle to communicate with the same frequency and nuance as they once did after receiving a hearing loss diagnosis.

You may recognize these feelings have crept into your relationship lately:

  • Frustration – The spouse with hearing loss may be frustrated by changes to their way of life and feel their hearing loss is misunderstood by their partner. The other spouse may be frustrated they have to repeat themselves often in order to be understood.
  • Anger – Over time, pent-up frustration may be expressed as anger. You and your partner may find yourselves arguing about going out in public, using closed captions on the TV and losing much-needed communication in your relationship.
  • Stress – Sometimes the hearing partner feels pressure to step up to the plate to help their spouse. They may feel like a full-time liaison, responsible for filling in conversation gaps, doing chores that require interaction with other people and advocating for adequate medical care. The spouse with hearing loss may fear being too dependent on their partner and may not be comfortable with how extensive their medical needs have become.
  • Sadness – Someone with hearing loss may feel they are missing out on conversation, music and the world at large. The other spouse may mourn the changes in their partner and feel guilty that they cannot change their situation.
  • Loneliness – Depending on the severity of the hearing loss, it can be difficult to make small talk or sustain a conversation. People have misconceptions about hearing loss and may treat you or your spouse with disdain or pity because of it. This can make it hard to socialize and form meaningful connections with those who truly respect you.
  • Detachment – You and your spouse may feel estranged from each other where you once felt inseparably close. Some of the spontaneous moments of communication you used to enjoy together may no longer be physically possible, and that can take an emotional toll over time. This can be especially jarring if you’re used to having a rock-solid relationship built on open and honest communication.
  • Isolation – Some situations are simply too overwhelming for someone with hearing loss. Busy restaurants, raucous sports games, loud concerts and parties with blaring music may all be off-limits now. Hearing loss can also cause embarrassment and exhaustion, which may lead someone to stay at home instead of being subjected to the perceived judgments of others.

How to Cope with Hearing Loss as a Couple

The important thing to remember is that hearing loss is no one’s fault. It can be caused by any number of factors out of your control, like noise exposure, ototoxic medicines or aging. What you do have control over is how you handle hearing loss and move forward as a couple.

You are not necessarily doomed to divorce because of this obstacle. You have likely gone through many trying times together, such as losing a loved one, combatting a serious illness, raising children together, moving to another city or state and renegotiating your respective roles in the relationship as you’ve grown older. When you rose to each challenge, you likely became a stronger couple because of it.

Coping with hearing loss is no different. The following strategies may help you resolve some of the negative emotions you feel and rebuild your relationship:

  • Attending marriage counseling together
  • Agreeing to communicate in a healthier way devoid of blame or aggression
  • Getting a hearing aid or cochlear implant
  • Learning sign language together

Receive a Hearing Aid or Cochlear Implant Services from West Texas Rehabilitation Center

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, more than 28 million American adults could improve their quality of life with the help of a hearing aid. Despite this, most people who could benefit from hearing aids never try them – including approximately 84 percent of eligible 20- to 69-year-olds. Among those who have tried hearing aids, a large percent find that they have had a positive impact on their marriage.

At West Texas Rehabilitation Center, our audiology team will work with you to find the best hearing tool for your level of hearing loss. We have a wide variety of new hearing aids to choose from at every price level, and we also offer hearing aid repair. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about the performance of your device – we offer a 60-day trial period to make sure you’re seeing results, as well as cleanings every four months free of charge!

If you’re interested in trying a hearing aid or receiving cochlear implant services, contact us today at our Abilene, San Angelo or Ozona locations.

The holidays are “hear”: How to make the holidays hearing-loss friendly.

In this blog, you’ll learn some tips on how to help create a hearing-loss friendly environment that’ll help everyone thrive while celebrating the holidays.

One of our favorite times of the year is here… the holiday season. It’s a time for family members, friends or loved ones to get together to celebrate and spend time catching up with one another.

While this time of year may bring joy for some, it may bring some added stress or emotions to others, especially those with hearing loss.

Here are some ways you can support your guests as a host:

  • Pull aside the individual with a hearing loss in a discrete way and ask how you can help make their visit easier and ask if there is there anything you can do to support them throughout the gathering.
  • Create a quiet area for people to catch up.
  • Make sure the room is bright enough for everyone to see each other, especially to help everyone follow the conversation.
  • See if you can turn down, turn off or mute holiday music, football games, or other background noise, particularly while eating.
  • Check in with your guests. If you notice someone with hearing loss may be withdrawing from the conversations or quiet, please try to help bring them back into the conversation and encourage others to do the same.
  • Try to take a moment to chat with everyone, including those with hearing loss.
  • Ask those with hearing loss where the best spot for them to sit at the dinner table is ahead of time and help make it easier for them.
  • Speak clearly while providing dinner instructions or even in general.
  • If someone is unable to hear you, try rephrasing the words to help them better understand you.
  • During the dinner, ask if people will take turns and go around the table to share a favorite memory or highlight from the year, what they are thankful for, or what they are looking forward to in the following year as an activity.

Here are some tips on how you can handle your hearing loss with grace at the holiday gatherings you’ll be attending:

  • Notify the host ahead of time to let them know you may have a difficult time hearing in certain environments and see about accommodations.
  • Arrive early to catch up with family and friends before it gets too crowded or too loud.
  • Be honest, let people know about your communication needs and self-advocate if you are having a hard time hearing.
  • Wear your hearing aids at all times to make sure your hearing loss doesn’t get in the way of a good time.
  • Make sure your hearing aids are clean, up-to-date and your batteries are fully charged.
  • Ask a family member or friend to help remind others of your communication needs and if they can help repeat things.
  • Have reasonable expectations and know it’s okay if you don’t hear everything.
  • Consider using an assistive listening device just like the ReSound Multi Mic or the ReSound Micro Mic to help make sure you never miss a word.
  • Speak up if you are having trouble hearing or give visual cues to help notify others.
  • See if background noises like holiday music can be reduced or limited.
  • Choose the best seat to you and make sure you can see others.
  • Find a quieter area for conversations, especially if they are more one-one-one if need be.
  • Converse with those next to you.
  • Ask if closed captioning can be turned on the television if anything like a football game is being shown.
  • Don’t shout across the room, make sure to walk over to the person and talk to them directly.

Keep these tips in mind when hosting or attending a holiday gathering or get together to ensure everyone feels included in the environment. We hope you all enjoy your holiday gatherings and have a safe and happy holiday season! Contact our Hearing Centers if you have any questions! They are “hear” to help.

Down Syndrome Explained: Rocking an Extra Chromosome

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused when abnormal cell division results in extra genetic material from chromosome 21. Instead of the typical 46 chromosomes, people with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes. Having an extra chromosome changes brain and body development resulting in physical and cognitive differences. 

There are three different types of Down syndrome

  1. Trisomy 21 is the most common and accounts for 95% of the cases. It is caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21. 
  2. Mosaic is when there is a mixture of cells with the normal 46 chromosomes and those with 47 that have an extra chromosome 21. 
  3. Translocation is when there are the normal 46 chromosomes but then an extra copy of chromosome 21 attaches to another chromosome; usually chromosome 14.


Common characteristics: 

While characteristics vary from person to person, these are some of the most common:

Physical Features Cognitive/Social Features Developmental Delays
  • A flattened face, especially the bridge of the nose
  • Almond-shaped eyes that slant up
  • A short neck, fingers, and toes
  • Small ears
  • Short attention span
  • Poor judgment
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Slower learning
  • Delayed language and speech development
  • Gross motor skills
  • Fine motor skills
  • Speech and language skills

Myths vs. Facts

Myths  Facts 
Down syndrome is a rare disorder. 

Most children with Down syndrome are born to older parents.

All children with Down syndrome have a severe cognitive disability.

People with Down syndrome cannot be active members of society.

It is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition. Approximately 1 out of 772 babies in the United States are born with Down syndrome.

More children with Down syndrome are born to parents younger than 35 but the likelihood of having a baby with Down syndrome increases with age. 

Most people with Down syndrome have a mild to moderate cognitive or intellectual disability.

People with Down syndrome participate in a wide range of activities in their communities.  


What can I do to help? 

Talk to your child’s pediatrician about services, equipment, and community resources in your area for support as they learn new skills.  Examples that may be appropriate:


Healthcare Equipment/Devices Community Resources
  • Medical Specialists
    • Pediatrics, Orthopedics, Neurology, Genetics, and others as appropriate
  • ECI (Early Childhood Intervention, 0-3 years)
  • Pediatric Outpatient 
    • Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy
  • AAC (Augmented/Alternative Communication)
  • DME (Durable Medical Equipment)
    • Orthotics
    • Standing frame
    • Gait trainer
    • Walker 
  • Daycare settings for children with special needs
  • School-based therapy and accommodations
  • Adaptive Sports (Challenger League, etc.)
  • Upside Down Club of Abilene (or local chapter in your area)
    • Annual Buddy Walk event


Organizations and Websites that offer Support 

This website has resources and programs; education for parents as educators; supports for advocacy; an annual convention; and Down syndrome news stories and events. Each state also has various links to help at the state level. 

This website has resources and support by age and by topic. It also has help with advocacy and policy. 

This website offers resources, programs, research, and events specific to individuals with mosaic Down syndrome

This website offers resources and support, events, and even a shop for Down syndrome awareness 

This website has programs and resources for people with down syndrome and their families. These resources/programs include apps, a magazine, workshops, and podcasts. These resources are also available in Spanish. 

This website was created to help people with intellectual disabilities with advocacy and policy and helps to connect families with local agencies that can help with these areas. 

This website offers information about research and medical care; offers programs and events; advocacy; and news about people with Down syndrome. The foundation helps to fund the  Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome which is committed to research and medical care for people with Down syndrome. 

This website offers resources, events, and personal stories for families in the Big Country area.

To learn more about all of the services we provide, click here.

October is Physical Therapy Month

October is physical therapy month and at WTRC, we take our commitment to providing excellent care to our patients very seriously. We also are very proud of the fact that each therapist will see one patient at a time instead of dividing our attention between multiple patients at once. We believe that our patient’s recovery is key and we have better outcomes due to being able to spend quality time with each one of our patients. Our patients will be seen and treated 1 on 1 by a licensed, certified therapist every visit, for the entirety of the visit! – Abilene Adult Physical Therapy Department

SPINAL MANIPULATION: Spinal manipulation is a very effective treatment for lower back pain, we have several physical therapists who are trained in manipulation therapy!

CUPPING: WTRC has many instruments & techniques to offer for treatment of soft tissue disorders. Our therapists are trained in Myofascial DecompressionTM. Myofascial DecompressionTM is a technique that lifts the layers of tissue as opposed to other techniques that compress tissue. Our therapists utilize this technique along with stretching and exercise to optimize function and mobility.

TMJ/TMD: Temporomandibular joint disorder is a common condition that limits the function of the jaw. It currently affects more than 10 million people in the United States consisting of difficulty with chewing and limited jaw opening. TMJ disorders range from poor posture, clenching, lock jaw, stress, and malalignment in the teeth. Our physical therapists are trained to treat your TMJ disorders to allow you to talk, eat, brush your teeth, etc…without further limitation!

TRX: Our therapists are trained in TRXⓇ suspension training. This device is safe and effective in treating many musculoskeletal injuries or disabilities for all ages. Suspension training allows us to deload the body without heavy resistance training and use body weight training to isolate specific muscle groups to prevent compensatory movement patterns. 

CONCUSSIONS: Concussions can result in dizziness, nausea, imbalance, light sensitivity, and vision disturbances, among other complications. If you’ve had a concussion from a fall or injury, come see one of our certified vestibular therapists to reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life. 

DYNAVISION: Do you want to improve your hand-eye coordination, reaction time, balance, or cognitive performance? Come see the professionals at West Texas Rehab Center for training using the state of the art device, Dynavision. This tool will challenge you in more ways than one to improve your visual and motor reaction time. 

VERTIGO: Have you ever experienced vertigo or inner ear problems? Consider physical therapy treatment with our certified vestibular therapists. You will have a very thorough evaluation with state of the art equipment to get to the root of your problems.

Is your world spinning? Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a common cause of spinning dizziness that can be treated within a few short sessions (sometimes even 1 or 2 times!).

DIZZINESS: ISEN video goggles are specialized pieces of equipment used to provide more accurate results during vestibular assessments. Our vestibular certified therapists can help to determine the cause of your dizziness by using these goggles during your evaluation and treatments. 

DRIVER SCREENINGS: Returning to driving can be scary after an injury or change in health status. Our physical therapists can perform for a comprehensive driving evaluation to assess any cognitive or physical limitations related to operating a motor vehicle. We want you to feel confident when it comes to the safety of you and those around you on the road. 

ZERO G GAIT & BALANCE SYSTEM: Looking to improve your walking ability? Our state of the art Zero G can help by eliminating falls and reducing the load on your legs & spine while practicing safe walking to improve your independence!

BLOOD FLOW RESTRICTION: Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) is a technique that increases strength without applying a heavy load to a joint or muscle. At WTRC, we can use BFR to help you regain your strength even before you can put all of your weight on your leg or while you have lifting restrictions. This helps you return to your old self even faster.

Recovering from an ACL tear? Let us use Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) to get that quad strength back even in the early stages of your recovery and reduce your risk of future injury!

NECK PAIN: Do you struggle with tension and pain in your neck and feel you have tried everything? Have you heard about dry needling? Come to WTRC for an evaluation by a licensed physical therapist and see if dry needling is appropriate for you.

DRY NEEDLING: WTRC has skilled physical therapists with a doctorate level degree and several are certified dry needling providers. This is just one of many skills they have to offer. Dry needling involves a technique in which a small needle is inserted into the skin and targets trigger points in a muscle that are determined to be problematic by the physical therapist. This technique allows the muscle to relax and improves circulation to the tissue promoting healing of the tissue itself & decreasing pain.

What to Expect at your Child’s First Pediatric Therapy Evaluation

Your child’s pediatrician just sent a referral for a therapy evaluation.  Now what?  What does this mean? Do I need to do anything? These are all valid questions for a parent who has never had experience with the therapy world.  It can be confusing and overwhelming when you do not know what to expect.  Here is the process of an evaluation at the West Texas Rehab Center and what to expect at your child’s first evaluation.

  1. Why you are Bringing your Child to the West Texas Rehab Center78 

Your child’s pediatrician may tell you that they are sending a referral for a therapy evaluation.  Your pediatrician may do this after a parent voices concerns or observes concerns regarding their child’s development.  There are 3 different referrals that they send depending on  what your child may benefit from.  The 3 therapy services that we offer are:

  • Occupational Therapy– addresses fine motor skills, visual motor and perceptual skills, upper extremity and core strength, bilateral coordination,  developmental milestones, sensory integration, activities of daily living(dressing, brushing teeth, hygiene, etc.), feeding, and more!
  • Physical Therapy– addresses gross motor skills, functional mobility, pain, coordination, developmental milestones (sitting, crawling, walking, etc.), strength, balance, and more!
  • Speech-Language Therapy– addresses communication, expressive and receptive language, articulation, dysphagia, feeding, oral motor skills, and social skills.
                    1. Scheduling your appointment
  •  The doctor will send us the referral and once we receive it, our staff will call to schedule the initial evaluation on a day and time that works for you!
  1. Getting to the Rehab Center
  • We are located at 4601 Hartford St. in Abilene, and at 3001 S. Jackson St. in San Angelo.
  1. Admissions

Admissions is the first place that you will go for the initial evaluation.  In admissions the staff will need to gather specific information from you in order to establish you as a patient.  This includes demographic information, contact information, insurance, identification,  and a brief medical history.

  • Make sure that you bring:
    – proper identification
    – insurance cards
    – custody paperwork, etc. if the child has been placed with you
    – any other papers (psychological evaluations, IQ testing, etc.) that you feel are necessary for the therapist to know (if this has been completed)
  1. The Evaluation

The admissions staff will walk you back to the Pediatric Department after you complete the necessary paperwork.  At this time there are 1 of 2 things that you may start with.

If your child is having more than one discipline evaluate your child on that day, you may start by seeing Family Support Services.  They will gather a full medical history and see if there are any other services or supports that the child and/or family may benefit from.  If your child is only being evaluated by one discipline that day, the therapist will come get you from the waiting room to start!

During the evaluation, the therapist will go over why your child is having an evaluation, medical history, concerns that you may have and current skill level.  Be prepared to answer questions!  The therapist may also have you fill out questionnaires.  This is how therapists get a lot of their information needed to determine if therapy is going to be beneficial for your child.

The therapist will complete an assessment during that evaluation.  Depending on which service is evaluating and which concerns are present, these may be looking at developmental skills, measuring strength, range of motion, social skills, language skills, etc. It is beneficial for your child to wear clothes that they can move around in and to wear tennis shoes.

  1. Recommendations

At the end of the evaluation the therapist will either determine that your child requires additional therapy services or not.  This typically is seen as weekly services if they do recommend services.  The therapist will bring you up to the pediatric office secretary to make sure that your contact information is correct and your preferences of days/times for scheduling services.   The therapist will then write up a report with their findings. In this report they will write about assessment scores, recommendations for how many times they would like to see you, and establish goals to work on during therapy.


This is establishing the PLAN OF CARE (POC).  The POC is then sent to the doctor that sent the referral. The doctor will read the report and sign it if they are in agreement with the recommendations.  Once the doctor has signed the POC, the staff at the Rehab Center will request authorization for therapy visits if necessary. Once that happens, we can begin seeing your child on a regular basis as recommended by the therapist.  Our staff will contact you to set up an appointment time and establish when this will start.

If you feel like your child needs a therapy evaluation you can talk to their pediatrician to get a referral.  If you have questions pertaining to the West Texas Rehab Center please feel free to give us a call! Abilene: 325-793-3400    San Angelo: 325-223-6300

Oral Motor Approach to Feeding and Speech

Oral Motor function and skill is something you may hear your Speech-Language Pathologist talk about in reference to your child’s speech and feeding therapy. What does Oral Motor mean anyway? Oral motor refers to the movement patterns and muscles of the mouth. So it makes sense that Oral Motor function and skill are important for speech and eating. Therefore, when we look at speech and feeding delays through the lens of oral motor functioning, we are able to more specifically identify and serve those patients whose speech and feeding skill delays are a result of an oral motor function deficit.

Oral motor function impacts five major areas:

  1. Awareness of pressure and movement – The body’s automatic response to sensory input i.e.(trigger of swallow or cough to protect the airway)
  2. Control of Secretions – swallowing saliva, adequate lip closure to prevent drooling
  3. Coordination for eating, drinking, talking, and facial expressions- just like we need coordination to walk and ride a bike, we need motor coordination to eat and drink a variety of consistencies safely and efficiently, and to coordinate speech movements along with breathe.
  4. Knowledge of the environment-sensory receptors (taste and touch) give information about objects within the environment i.e.( when babies mouth and chew to find out more about things around them)
  5. Control of movements for talking – early developing sounds require slower, larger movements for cooing (vowels) and as development progresses and muscle skills improve new sounds emerge with the vowel sounds i.e. babbling (bababa, mamama). Once coordination increases sound combinations become more complex i.e. (first words -> phrases -> sentences).

All of these areas are vital in the development of normal speech and feeding abilities. If there is significant weakness or deficit in oral motor function, feeding and speech development may be delayed or disordered for a child’s age i.e. (problems with drooling, tongue thrust, gagging, poor suck, poor eating, poor food texture grading, limited food preferences, and poor speech production).

What’s the next step? A Speech-Language Pathologist will do a comprehensive evaluation to look at all areas of speech, language, and/or feeding abilities. As a part of this evaluation, the SLP will determine if oral motor assessment is indicated. If oral motor assessment is warranted, the SLP will measure your child’s oral motor function and determine if oral motor intervention is indicated as an appropriate approach for speech or feeding therapy sessions.

Don’t we need to work on actual speech or eating tasks to improve these areas?

YES, in order to improve/develop adequate speech and/or feeding skills, the main target of therapy will be to practice speaking and/or eating. However, there is more than one way to build muscle strength, control, and coordination. Just like there are many different exercises to increase core strength i.e. (crunches, sit ups, plank). If we incorporate a variety of different ways to work and provide input to the muscles used for speech and feeding, the greater the functional strength and coordination outcome.

Will Oral motor intervention magically produce speech or increased feeding skills?

Not on it’s own. However, when paired with targeted speech or feeding intervention tasks, oral motor exercises can increase awareness and sensory input to the muscles which impact muscle activation, planning, programming, and execution. We need all of these components for everyday speech and feeding tasks.  To find out more information contact our Speech Therapy department in San Angelo or Abilene.


Beckman, D. A. (1986 Rev. 2007) Beckman Oral motor Assessment and Intervention.

Published by Beckman & Associates, Inc.

620 N Wymore Rd STE 230, Maitland, Florida 32751-4253.

Written by:

Kalee Rupe M.S. CCC-SLP

The Manufacturing Process: Employees Included


JUN 27, 2023 11:00:00 AM

As I tour a manufacturing facility, I am in awe at the care taken in the design of the production process flow.    Resin stored outside is piped into each machine through an elaborate web of piping, the machines have varied degrees of automation, and the floor plan is strategically designed for optimal productivity and efficiency.  My tour guide shows pride in the design and care taken, the automation, and the complexity of the manufacturing workflow.  The final steps in the manufacturing process involve humans … aka employees.  They are in repetitive motion jobs with physically demanding work and long shifts (10 -12 hours) on their feet.

After the tour, the team gathers at a board to review each machine’s current “uptime” and availability to meet today’s production needs.  The fear of lost productivity is real.  Each year in the US, manufacturers lose an estimated $50B in lost productivity due to unplanned downtime.  A team of machine maintenance employees is focused on uptime and break fixes because it is so critical to keep the machines running.  These employees are essential in the manufacturing process yet are an often-overlooked component of the “uptime” discussion.

According to Harvard Business Review (HBR), employee “downtime” due to lost productivity is estimated at $150B with presenteeism and absenteeism combined.  And the Institute of Medicine reports that workers’ compensation claims for MSK -related work injuries are between $45B -$55B annually.  Abrupt changes in available staffing in labor-intensive industries create bottlenecks, lost productivity, and an internal scrambling to juggle resources and meet deadlines.  This scenario may mean longer shifts for some employees, increasing the risk of injuries.

The key component for a strong foundation is prevention.  Creating a “well-oiled” manufacturing or distribution environment starts with ensuring production uptime of all process components- both people and machines.  
Some foundational components to address the human element are:

  • Understanding the physical demands of the job.  Performing functional job analysis (FJA) and creating Functional Job Descriptions (FJD)
  • Implement a Post Offer Employment Test (POET) utilizing FJDs to ensure the candidate is physically able to do the job.
  • Invest in a Managed MSK onsite clinic to design, deliver and manage to create a solid foundation of employee health.   Staffed with a highly trained provider (PT, OT, ATC) and managed by a team of experts, some aspects include:
    o    Catching aches and pains before they turn into injuries 
    o    Onboarding and conditioning new hires 
    o    Job coaching and workplace modifications 
    o    Trusted resource to employees on MSK and wellness 
    o    Proactive programs, warm-ups, micro-breaking, and toolbox talks that have lasting results due to the onsite presence.
    o    Small footprint and investment with a significant impact

Yes, it requires spending a little time and money but think about the long term in effectively, safely, and efficiently keeping people healthy and on the job. Investing in machines and people builds a solid foundation for a productive and safe work environment.

If you’d like more information on our WorkSteps programs, please contact our Employer Services departments in Abilene at 325.793.3443, San Angelo at 325.223.6370, or Ozona at 325.392.9872 or go to

Pumping for the Working Mom

Pumping for the Working Mom

By: Anna Nguyen, M.S., CCC-SLP, CLC

Speech-Language Pathologist, Certified Lactation Counselor

Maternity leave coming to an end can trigger a lot of feelings: sadness to leave your baby, excitement to be back at your job, or anxiety about pumping. If you have been breastfeeding your baby for the last few weeks or months, you know the benefits of breastfeeding are worth the effort. Going back to work may mean you have to pump more than you previously did. Maybe you are an exclusive pumper who is used to pumping in the comfort of your home and have not had to worry about milk storage outside of the house. Either way, pumping and working can be a tricky transition.

A general rule of thumb for pumping when separated from your baby is to pump as often as your baby would eat. For a baby around 12 weeks old, that typically means you would need to pump 3 times during your 8:00-5:00 day. It can be easy to worry about supply, saving up, or having enough but all you need is enough for the next day’s bottles. A sample schedule may look like this:

7am: breastfeed baby at home

9/9:30am: pump

12/12:30pm: pump

3/3:30pm: pump

5/5:30pm: breastfeed

**This schedule is only a sample and may look different depending on the needs of you or your baby.

Breastmilk is safe to keep in a closed container in the work fridge. However, some parents prefer to keep their breastmilk in a more personal location or do not have access to a fridge. Other options can include a cooler bag with an ice pack or specially designed thermoses for breastmilk. Be aware that adding warm breastmilk to either a cooler with an ice pack or a thermos may change the temperature of the container as milk comes out at body temperature.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), freshly pumped breastmilk is safe to stay at room temperature for a maximum of 4 hours, can stay in the fridge for up to 4 days, and in the freezer for up to 6 months for best retention of nutrients and 12 months for adequate retention of nutrients. Previously frozen breastmilk should be used within 1-2 hours of it being thawed, up to 24 hours in the fridge, and should NEVER be refrozen after it has been completely thawed. Once a bottle of milk has been given to a baby, the milk should be consumed within 2 hours or less due to bacterial growth that takes place when the milk touches saliva.

Breast pumps are not as efficient at removing milk as a baby and some mothers find difficulty with supply or achieving a letdown when pumping or when separated from their baby. Finding a quiet place at work away from your work to allow yourself to relax, looking at pictures or videos of your baby, or even bringing some of your baby’s clothes or blankets to smell while pumping can help with the hormonal production needed to achieve a letdown.

If you find yourself needing a more personalized schedule for pumping at work, exclusively pumping, or combination feeding your baby, contact me for an evaluation.

Anna Nguyen, M.S., CCC-SLP, CLC

Speech-Language Pathologist, Certified Lactation Counselor

Lymphedema Treatment Act passed by Congress in 2023 goes into effect January 1, 2024


Contact: Heather Ferguson



Health Provision Passed by Congress will Help Millions Who Suffer From this Under-Recognized Chronic Disease: Cancer survivors and others with lymphedema applaud inclusion of the Lymphedema Treatment Act in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023

For 12 years, the all-volunteer Lymphedema Advocacy Group led a grassroots campaign to close the unintended gap in Medicare coverage that prevented the program from covering prescribed medical compression garments that are the cornerstone of treatment for lymphedema.

“My son who was born with lymphedema was prescribed his first compression garment when he was seven months old,” said Heather Ferguson, the Founder and Executive Director of the group. “Our insurance company denied it because they aligned their coverage with Medicare.”

An estimated 3-5 million Americans suffer from lymphedema, a disease that causes painful and potentially life-threatening buildup of lymphatic fluid in the body. About two-thirds of patients acquire the condition due to damage done to their lymphatic system during cancer treatment, but there are also many other causes of lymphedema, including congenital malformations.

During each of the last three Congresses the Lymphedema Treatment Act had tremendous bipartisan support, with over 400 House and Senate cosponsors. As Congress concluded their work in 2022 the bill was included in the year-end omnibus spending package, creating a new Medicare Part B benefit category for lymphedema compression supplies.

“I am proud that the Lymphedema Treatment Act, which I have worked on for many years, was included in this package. Lymphedema is not a choice. Access to care should not be either,” said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9), who sponsored the bill in the House.

“Lymphedema patients have been denied this coverage for far too long. After battling cancer, survivors can be met with this equally debilitating diagnosis, but with far fewer resources in place to assist them,” said Congressman Buddy Carter (R-GA-1), who co-led the House bill. “As a pharmacist and a child of a cancer survivor, I’ve seen the pain that lymphedema can cause. To those patients – help is on the way.”

“Lymphedema affects more than 8,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Washington state and millions of Americans. By updating Medicare, we’re reflecting necessary and effective treatments for this condition,” said Senator Cantwell (D-WA), who sponsored the bill in the Senate. “This new law is a commonsense approach to improving care for Medicare beneficiaries living with lymphedema while reducing costly hospitalizations.”

The Senate bill was co-led by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA). According to multiple studies and real-world data, the use of medical compression garments has been proven to significantly reduce lymphedema-related infections and other complications, and an independent analysis by Avalere concluded that improved access to these doctor prescribed supplies would save Medicare hundreds of millions of dollars annually through avoided hospitalizations.

“As an SSDI and Medicare beneficiary I have experienced more frequent infections since being on Medicare and not having coverage for my compression garments,” said Sarah Bramblette, Board Chair of the Lymphedema Advocacy Group. “Being able to better manage this chronic disease will greatly improve my health and quality of life.”

Patient advocates and stakeholder groups will now work with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services as they implement the new coverage, which will go into effect January 1, 2024. The Lymphedema Advocacy Group plans to celebrate passage of the bill and announce next steps at an upcoming event in Washington, DC, which may occur in March, during Lymphedema Awareness Month. Advocates interested in more information can go to

May is Stroke Awareness Month

May is Stroke Awareness Month, a time dedicated to increasing awareness about stroke, its causes, and its impact on individuals and families. Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide, and it is important to understand its warning signs and risk factors.

A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted, either due to a clot blocking a blood vessel (ischemic stroke) or due to bleeding in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke). When the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen, brain cells start to die within minutes. This can lead to permanent brain damage, disability, or even death.

According to the American Stroke Association, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds, and someone dies from a stroke every four minutes. In addition, stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability, with more than 6.5 million stroke survivors currently living in the U.S.

While stroke can affect anyone, certain risk factors increase the likelihood of having a stroke. These include high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, and a family history of stroke. People who have had a previous stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA, or “mini-stroke”) are also at higher risk.

Recognizing the warning signs of stroke is crucial for getting prompt medical attention and preventing long-term damage. The acronym “FAST” is an easy way to remember the signs of stroke:

  • Face drooping: Does one side of the face droop or feel numb?
  • Arm weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech difficulty: Is speech slurred or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.”
  • Time to call 911: If someone shows any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.

Getting to a hospital quickly can make a big difference in a stroke patient’s outcome. Certain treatments, like clot-busting drugs or mechanical thrombectomy, are time-sensitive and can only be given within a few hours of the onset of symptoms.

Stroke Awareness Month is an opportunity to spread the word about stroke prevention, recognition, and treatment. By raising awareness, we can help more people understand the risk factors, warning signs, and actions to take in the event of a stroke. This knowledge can ultimately save lives and improve outcomes for stroke survivors.