Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day ~ Thank Our City Workers!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

A few years back, Des Moines Public Schools had planned to use MLK day as a snow make up, but it was overturned by the school board based on good speaking and listening skills of many people.

MLKDr. King  would be proud of the process involving our community and his holiday!

I also think he would appreciate students being in the classroom on January 21 learning and growing! He obviously had a passion for education, as did his wife Coretta, and knew how important learning is at every age. I totally agree!

At the end of July of 2019, my husband and I visited the Martin Luther King National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis and found it to be a special place filled with thoughtful, soulful and educational experiences. 

Dr. King and his life continues to evolve throughout communities across our country. 

The evening before he was assassinated, Dr. King was preparing to lead a protest march to help support striking sanitation workers.  Dr. King was hard at work doing his job to help others do their hard jobs.

Green garbage truckThankfully, every Tuesday morning the garbage in my hood gets picked up!

Thank you to the city sanitation workers and thank you to the city street sweepers. I appreciate your work. Des Moines is a beautiful city filled with people who care about our community and I’m proud to live here.

Street sweeperI hear the sweeper on my street quite a few times throughout the year and rush to watch it pass by my house!

Thank you Dr. King for all you’ve done, especially for your call to service helping working people across the nation. I’m particularly fond of this quote:  

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” ~ a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King.

Be the best you can be at what you do as an attorney. Let me know if you’d like my help to help you help your client on a case involving work and disability!! I’ll strive to be of valued service to your case.

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

 

Thanks for Thinking of Me! Why Wait to Place Me Into Action? Need A Vocational Expert on Your Case?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I enjoy consulting with attorneys. It involves learning about your questions; then using my expertise to provide an answer or two!  The fact is consulting work involves extraordinary amounts of mental processing.  Let me tell you, my brain gets a lot of action and yes, I work out physically, too! 

I don’t know about your specific style of learning or pattern of thinking is (give me time!), but for me, when I accept a case assignment, I don’t want to feel rushed about researching and finding solid answers to good questions.  No, I meant to write great questions, those formed to help you with answering your client’s difficult problems, surrounding certain situations, while considering all necessary detail.

In my eyes, “problems” are opportunities in disguise. Something “thinks” it needs  a solution. The thinking could be well thought through or it could be downright faulty, and that’s why education becomes a consulting strategy.  A good way to look at a problem is to compare it against an opposing problem and ask, which “opportunity” presents first? Will there be an order that makes sense? Is it really a problem or just defined as one?

For every problem under the sun, there is a solution or there is none. If there be one, think til you find it. If there be none, then never mind it!” ~ LeGrand Richards

My problem solving approach develops as the research is gathered relevant to the situation. How a situation is defined is just as important in the problem equation, considering virtually every situation can be defined in more than one way. Because of this fact, tremendous opportunity to educate becomes available, and negatives turn into positives resulting in the implication of how one feels and acts toward the situation!

I find that pulling too quickly for an answer or a fact won’t turn up the best results.  Pulling carefully yet relentlessly on the stem/root system will produce reliable, intact, organic results to share with others.  Through testimony, I can educate others on how to understand the specific facts I gathered and why they are important to this case, facilitating the information and helping them to “figure out” their own solution.

Thanks  for thinking of me (as Eeoyre says)!  Please contact me to get me involved early in the proceedings. Do so before you plant any seed, and I’ll help with preparing and weeding the ground, the hard part of the action! Even if you only need a file review, I can offer recommendations. And, we’d be better off to a good start!

I believe it’s always healthy to think of the humor in most situations. Truly, our emotions will benefit. Contact me at 515-778-0634 to discuss your case needs, and learn about my consulting style and policies. Again, thanks for thinking of me and for reading! I look forward to helping you help your client!

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Alaska and Her Rehabilitation Plan…Patience Beyond that of a “Normal” Cat Owner!

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Okay, another cat blog! Yes, I’m a cat lover and I love all pets and I care for all living creatures! I’m not a cat fanatic, it’s just that felines have been an important part of my life since my teens, and I love cats! I love to write too. I love my work. I love my family. I love my life! I love a lot actually! Amy means beloved, so it’s reciprocated in many ways : ) Read on please! I’d love it!

Cat Plate
Cat Plate

Little did we know that 3 months after Max my manx was murdered in early 2002 by something in the street, (I don’t love creatures who kill pets, and on the other hand I don’t like it at all when my pets kill creatures), a tiny meow would emit from our neighbor’s garden. Oh my, this long haired kitten was awesome! Felix! Welcome! (Okay, this blog is not about Felix today!)

Max, (nope this blog not about you either, meooowww) a dearly beloved yet wild cat, found me in ~1987 when I was renting the basement of a brick home in Windsor Heights (it had a pool in the back yard.) Speaking of cat claws! A word of advice from a long time cat owner, (counselors shouldn’t give advice, but in this case, listen to me!): Don’t think it’d be fun to give a cat a ride on an air mattress in a pool. Trust me. Sure looked like I had open heart surgery!

kitten-3

Alaska, when she was skinny

Now, here’s a blog devoted to Alaska. She’s the cat who strutted on down the street one Spring evening in 2012 (following my son Jacob and his friend Josh) directly into our house and to a bowl full of cat food. Score!

I recall saying “Wow I’ve always wanted a white cat!” She’s all white with beautiful eyes (I love the green one; no, I love the blue one!). Oh dear, upon her arrival she was a very thin stray!

And oh dear, oh my, oh dear, I would have no idea what trouble she would end up causing over the next year or two (…). You really don’t want to know all the horrid details, but just know her behavior  involved lots of $$$$ due to her destructive nature of clawing at furnishings (another word of advice regarding leather furniture and cat claws, expect your sofa to be a target!) and depositing her scent in various places throughout the house. 

Plus there were even more costs $$$ over veterinary bills due to her actions toward the existing female feline (my love of all cat loves SamiJo.) But Alaska was still a cat I had no plans to give up on! To this day, she’s definitely not the perfect puddy and I don’t expect she ever wants to be in “her eyes”!

When she arrived, she looked like a kitten, however our vet, Dr. Michael Forret, said she was about 7 months old when she decided to ditch being a stray and choose our home. She was hungry and dirty! Even her ears where filthy. Jacob named her and she has a middle name too, but I don’t think I should let you on to that just yet!

Alaska Our Putty TattyI rehabilitated Alaska TF into one big healthy white cat!

Part of Alaska’s rehabilitation included a lot of touch. She didn’t like being touched much, probably because she had not experienced much touch. To this day, she still will allow being touched only upon her terms and conditions, but I like to make her think she loves being petted which she really does but tries to hide it (cats).

kitten-in-toteAJ & AK bonding!

ArinJune figured out a way to carry her around in a tote bag (and to this day I often find her lounging in one of these she found!) to feel safe. With ongoing rehab,  regular vet care, good food and water, and lots and lots of love and attention, she thrives! Treats are nice too!

AK is much calmer of late into her more mature cat years. She loves the freedom to do what felines do (….sleep…and read above [hunt]…). She continues to be “a wild one” however and she herself does her share of “killing and delivering….” But, how can I stop a cat from that? Her hunting is actually of value to where we live because of an unkept property or two in the hood. But the dismembered gifts by the back door, come on! Enough. I purchased her a new collar with a loud bell that will hopefully help plus she only goes outside about once or twice a day. 

Update, Alaska has not gone outside for the last several years, so no more worrying about what she’s killing. Plus, after that one cat fight many moons ago (which lead to another visit to the vet, and resulted in stitches and a chipped ear), she prefers the indoors! And that’s where I like her to be!

2012-09-23 13.29.36

Alaska helping me on a case!

Good communication and problem-solving skills are required in order to counsel others. In my role as a rehab counselor, I truly want to be empathetic and reveal my desire to help people fulfill their goals. Counselors need good listening skills, compassion, and patience while working with individuals who have suffered serious injury and disability.

2012-09-23-13-29-43

She found this case interesting and pauses to reflect!

I know I have patience beyond that of a normal cat owner! Thank you my felines for teaching me how to listen and show my true self.

If I can help you help your client with a life care plan that includes vocational rehabilitation, please let me know! Contact me at 515-778-0634 or email  amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com

Thanks for reading! I hope you “loved it!”

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Rights of the Expert Witness ~ I’ll Take a Veggie Slice, Please

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Rights of the Expert Witness

expert

I continually assess and evaluate (there I go again!) my rights, values, professionalism, and of course ethics (which I really enjoy!?!) and am hopeful to write more on these topics and my career in the field of forensic rehabilitation consulting.

As far as rights, I found this great listing online (website is referred to below), and yes I added the graphics! I agree with the following essential considerations for taking on the role of expert witness:

  1. I have the right to be paid for my work.  Dream of Getting Paid
  2. I have the right to be prepped in advance of my testimony.
  3. I have the right to ask questions about the case.
  4. I have the right to work for either side, without fear of retribution.
  5. I have the right to change my opinion from previous testimony, as long as my opinion is evolving (based on new information, science and/or experience) rather than revolving (based on which side I’m working for). 
  6. I have the right to say “I don’t know”, if in fact, I don’t know. Just because I’m the expert doesn’t mean I have all the answers. I am clearly okay to say “I’m sorry, that’s outside my scope of practice”.
  7. I have the right to solicit objective feedback about my testimony from  the attorney who has called (and of course, they have the right to  decline to give it).
  8. I have the right to set limits with counsel about the scope of my testimony. 
  9. I have the right to disagree with another expert’s practices or  conclusions, even when I perceive that expert to be: a.) more educated;  b.) more famous; or c.) more experienced. 
  10. I have the right to disregard the initial instinct to view opposing counsel’s expert as the enemy, but instead recognize everyone’s role in the process and share pizza and a bottle of wine with that expert after trial is over.

Pizza

 Truly, it’s all good work!

I am glad my career continually evolves! I accept responsibility when providing forensic services to be clear, truthful and comprehensive in my evaluation and report products, and in my role as an expert witness. Thank you for reading!

Please contact me Amy Botkin for more information ~ 515-778-0634 or amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com

I’ll take a veggie slice and a glass of Chardonnay please. You?

Source for Rights: http://www.forensichealth.com/2011/07/13/10-things-the-fho-expert-witness-bill-of-rights/

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Need an Expert Witness on Your Litigated Case? Choose Me!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Happy Turkey-less Day to those who won’t be gobbling a gobbler this Thanksgiving!  I personally won’t because I continue as a pescatarian! My two younger adult children Jacob and ArinJune continue their vegetarian lifestyle. Not my oldest son Nick, for he’s an incredible meat eater! Although the no meat eating rubbed off on me many moons ago, I still enjoy eating fish (tuna mostly).

Thank you Jake and AJ for showing me a lifestyle I probably wouldn’t have gone for had it not been for you two. But then again, I may have become really fantastic at grilling steaks (no, that’s Randy’s area.) 

Image result for turkey cartoon

I love the taste of turkey and found a delicious vegetarian roast that to me tastes just the same! My opinion counts!

For this post, I want to write about a way to chose your own path. I’ll start with a link to a post when my daughter Arin started a new job at Walgreen’s.

Over the two years she worked at Walgreen’s (she resigned earlier in 2014 to move on in different ways with her lifestyle), Arin had many customer experiences (including her days working as a host at Okoboji Grill as her first job, she knows a thing or two about customers) and I value her opinion

She’s shared many interesting retail shopper stories from her Walgreen’s days.  The worst was one day, she turned around while at the cash register to get perfume out of the locked glass cabinets for a customer, when she turned back, “the customer” was racing out the store with Chanel No 5 in her hands, along with other stolen items, and right out the front door.

Some shoppers are kind with good intentions…get in the store, find what you need, pay and get out of the store…all while being grateful and appreciative you found what you were looking for!  Then there are other shoppers who seem to float around in a bubble without realizing their bubble is more of a brick! Some shoppers are demanding, have no regard for other shoppers or the retail clerk, and are even down right rude. Yuck!!We all are continuously affected by the energy of other people in both positive and negative ways. My daughter quickly learned that the less you respond to rude, critical, argumentative people, the more peaceful your life will become and the more productive you’ll be on the job!

AJ’s goal at work: Help customers find, buy, and get out of the store with minimal distraction…along with an idea or two of how to get the customer to spend more money (especially products with incentives found within her own department, which gave Arin more in her paycheck!) This knowledge, my dear daughter, takes a certain level of emotional intelligence. Good for you!

Emotional intelligence is a huge factor in my work as an expert witness.

A very helpful and proactive way to limit how much we are affected in many settings and situations by where others are is a simple technique called being in your bubble.  Using your bubble when you need to, or realizing others are using their own bubble, takes a level of emotional intelligence, kindness and grace.

My sister Janice has told me to get out of her bubble more than once!Bubble

Bubble Me Up

I can’t find the source for what follows, but I’m sure whoever it is would be happy to share! Being in your bubble goes as follows:

1.) Spend a few moments with your eyes closed, quieting your thoughts.

2.)  In your imagination create a big clear soap bubble all around you that is about a foot out from your body.

3.)  Notice yourself within this bubble, and acknowledge that any type of energy you don’t want to experience in your own body will be unable to get through the bubble, and will just bounce off.

4.)  Walk through your day within your bubble. Take a look at the bubble periodically just to affirm that it is there, and recreate it whenever you want to.            Bubble

 Bubble Me Down 

There’s great reasons to use this tool to manage the energy that bounces around us all of the time. It frees you up to create the experience(s) the way you choose, while leaving others free to their own expression. You won’t need to get into the struggle and discomfort of resisting what others are doing or thinking, because it happens outside of your bubble and doesn’t need to affect you.

I hope your work week is productive, and you enjoy experiencing the energy that surrounds your work and home environments.

And if you need an expert for your litigated case, I’m here to help you help your client. In fact, I value the opportunity to help.  The choice is yours! 

Vocational Resources Plus, LLC            lcpresourcesplus.com          515-778-0634 

amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

When, Where & Why You Need a Life Care Planner for Your Litigated Case & Who Can Help? Me!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

When Do You Need a Life Care Planner?

Typically a life care planner is helpful for legal cases involving catastrophic injuries or chronic health conditions.

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  • Lawyers, physicians, and insurance companies can hire a life care planner to research, analyze and develop life care plans for patients who experience catastrophic injuries or chronic health conditions related to birth, brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, amputation, trauma, burns, and other serious injury.

Where Do You Need a Life Care Planner?

A life care planner is useful in a variety of jurisdictions.

  • In legal cases that include workers’ compensation, personal injury, medical malpractice and marital dissolution
  • A plan is also useful to protect assets when aging, disability or chronic disease raises tough questions about estates
  • Other civil lawsuits, estates and probate needs

Why Do You Need a Life Care Planner?

A life care planner is beneficial for individuals, families and funding sources for many good reasons.  A good planner is able to ~

  • Provide the individual and the family with an outline of future care
  • Guide people through the complex maze of rehabilitation and long-term care coordination
  • Assess diagnoses and work-related disabilities
  • Network and make connections with health care providers and holistic practitioners
  • Educate, motivate and support the family regarding their loved one’s needs
  • Help insurance companies set reserves

Who Can Help? How About Me?! Amy!

Amy Pic 9-29-15Amy E. Botkin, MS, CRC, CLCP,

Certified Rehabilitation Counselor & Certified Life Care Planner

With my extensive training, experiences and knowledge, I am able to zero in on vocational rehabilitation needs. These needs are often a key component when attorneys and insurance companies are settling or trying a legal case involving an individual of working age.

Please take into account a child deserves the opportunity to work and make money in their future, and if permanently and totally disabled, many factors come into play when assessing their potential earning capacity.  It starts with assessing the child’s parent’s working background! 

I can help you help your client and your client’s family.

CLCP Certificate expires 2-28-21

Contact me at 515-778-0634 or amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com for more information about my approach to life care planning and to discuss your case! 

Thank you for reading my blog post!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Hello Attorney, I’m Here to Help Your Client With Shoulder Injury!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

At the beginning of the year 2017, my left rotator cuff was injured during a combination of physical activity, but I’m not sure how it happened.  Being the type of person who always wants to, no, needs to have answers!, I just had to go with the fact that I hurt!

It took a long time for my shoulder to heal and during that time, my physical and mental capacity were diminished. So in that way, I can empathize with what a person with a shoulder injury experiences. 

The first six months are critical to any injured body part that wants to heal. Proper care, nutrition, stretching, exercise and relaxation are essential components of rehabilitation.  A “don’t give up attitude” is too. I can relate to the limited movement, the pain, and the frustration from my rotator cuff injury!

Nice Biceps!

What’s good is that my shoulder (arms and entire core for that matter!) are much stronger than before because, well simply put, I care about my shoulders and exercise with purpose so they can work hard for me! 

I was offline for maintenance, but I came back stronger than ever!

Remind your clients of the fact that they’re your only shoulders, and if there’s injury, encourage them to do everything possible allowing the healing process to do the work.  If you want a vocational rehabilitation consultant on your side, contact me! If you have a lawsuit that needs to draw attention to the costs of the injury, contact me!

Practicing yoga, or focused stretching and faithfully paying attention to what your body is saying is incredibly valuable during any healing process. If an injury becomes chronic and a decision to perform surgery is made, physical rehabilitation is paramount. 

Rehabilitation also includes body and mind. Speaking of mind, I am grateful to hear of the change in the Iowa workers’ compensation law to provide workers who have a serious shoulder injury and can no longer return to their existing job with vocational rehabilitation benefits.

After July 1, 2017, if in the workers’ compensation system for a shoulder injury, the individual may receive career vocational training at a local community college…and we have good ones here in Iowa!  The employer or the employer’s insurer is required to pay financial support for participation in the program up to $15,000 for tuition, fees, and required supplies. I have plenty of experience helping Veterans return to school and commence with a new career when I had a contract with the VA to provide vocational rehabilitation services.

Also in January 2017,  I worked with a vocational rehabilitation client, Gerald. He had a serious rotator cuff injury with multiple shoulder surgeries and wasn’t expected to be able to return to his job as a roofer. I met with him and performed a vocational evaluation. He expressed interest in work as a heavy machine operator, so upon research and contact with local resources, I prepared an in-depth report to support our findings to help him move into a new career. Please let me know if you have a need on a case involving a shoulder injury as this information is fresh!

Gerald the Cat…Studious, Quick, Very Orange & Very Cool!

In 2018, I was assigned two interesting shoulder injury cases (one involved a dentist, the other a truck trailer unloader/consolidator) and I learned a lot about  surgical options, costs of care and vocational outcomes. I’d be happy to share what I’ve learned if it’d benefit your client!

Please let me know if you have a need for a vocational expert like me to help you help your client.  Just FYI: a few years back, my sister Julie experienced a bad elbow injury when she tripped and fell at work, which required elbow replacement surgery. I learned about elbow procedures and rehabilitation while helping her!

Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon! BTW, I enjoy using cool cats to support my work!  Contact me at 515-778-0634 to discuss your case, or email me at   amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com and let me know the best time to contact you!

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Randy and His Perpetual Flip Off! Need an Expert on Your Case Involving Work & Disability?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The evening before my dad’s funeral in May 2016, my husband Randy walked our dog Bella.  Holding his cell phone in one hand while talking to my mother about his part in the service, the other hand held the leash. Bella’s a big Aussie girl, weighing in around 60 pounds;

and from what I hear, a huge raccoon made an appearance near a sewer opening down the street just as they were walking by. This appearance led Bella to lurch towards the coon…pulling hard on the fingers grasped around the leash, and breaking husband’s finger in the process. Ouch.

Early the next morning, we had to hit the road to make the trip to Iowa Falls and, well, experience what would transpire during my father’s service…and beyond in this world for those of us who loved him and enjoyed his company.  

Here’s one of my favorite photos of my dad!

Randy never saw a doctor for his finger injury. I wish he would’ve though. I performed my version of physical therapy and Healing Touch on him, but to this day…well, Randy has a broken middle finger that sticks up in such a way it resembles the image below!

Get my drift?

The funeral service was nice, and my mom did a great job choosing the readings and what to sing! Randy read the first reading, my sister Julie the second and Father Tony the Gospel, of course! I was a communion minister for dad’s friends!

Many of dad’s church friends were involved in the Mass Mass and he would’ve loved that! In fact, one of his buddies told me my dad was like a brother to him. At that moment, my heart grew stronger knowing my dad was very special to another person. Clearly, that was God’s presence, and one of many experiences I feel during life!

One good thing was my dad was cremated, so no handling of a heavy casket with a broken finger!  Afterwards, we had a nice lunch that my dad would’ve enjoyed as well. Love You Dad!

So, to this day, Randy’s finger exhibits a perpetual flip off! Pretty cool huh?  When certain people, like a friend he hasn’t seen in a while, questions why he’s flipping them off, instead of going into detail, he just says “I dunno”.  Just recently, he came home from his job and remarked one of his fellow teachers wanted to know why he flipped her off.  He smiled and replied ~

 dunno!

A great memory from October of 2016 was of Randy driving into and out of the parking area of the Kansas City Chief’s Arrowhead stadium pre-and post game (they won!).  Soo many people, staffers, and cops too! Well, they all got the flip off! But, no one noticed, which to me made it quite comical! 

It’s a “I do know” factual concept for me to tap into emotional intelligence when I’m being deposed or testifying (I believe it’s okay to flip someone off under a table or in your mind as a form of mental exercise!!). So contact me, my Attorney Reader, if you need an expert and I’ll offer my complete time and attention  as an consultant and an educator for your case.

Keep me in mind as I also offer consulting services to help attorneys come up with good questions to help you prepare for a deposition and/or cross examination in a courtroom on cases involving work and disability.

I’m Here to Help You Help Your Client!

The best way to contact me is by email at  amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com

___________________

 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

 

How to Handle Conflicting Medical Opinions? With a Forensic Approach, of Course!

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Upon referral of a vocational case, I review a variety of  medical data (for example: treating physician reports, Functional Capacity Evaluations, Independent Medical Evaluations) and/or psychological data (for example: psychometric testing, psychological evaluations, psychiatric evaluations) found within the file. During a workers’ compensation litigated claim, and for that matter, any claim that involves work and disability, it’s important for me to understand the individual’s medical situation based on the data contained in these records.

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Good thing I’ve had medical records training and enjoy the review!

If a file contains more than one FCE and/or IME, I can expect the reports to have conflicting opinions. For example, one physical therapist will recommend the claimant has the physical capacity for light work, while the other physical therapist says medium work. Often the therapists also have conflicting information about the individual’s maximal (or lack of) effort put forth during the evaluation.

I Did My Best

The claimant needs to say honestly and sincerely  “I Did My Best!”

Assisting the individual (who can be referred to as the injured worker, the claimant, the patient, the testee, the evaluee, and potentially the client)  in returning to work following an injury is a central role in my specialty of placement. This involves finding the best occupational match within the individual’s own labor market. A person’s “doctor imposed restrictions based on an FCE” should not direct the provision of placement services. A person’s knowledge, skills, interests and abilities should!

Image result for opinionWith conflicting opinions from professionals, what data should I rely upon to perform a beneficial service?

I understand conflicting opinions are influenced by components of context and can be derived from subjective views. 

To resolve discrepancies I first ask myself, why is an FCE being used for this specific claim? The utility of this type of scientifically based evaluation, the training sources, performance methods, test protocols and standards to measure them are numerous. Professionals may have opposing views for their own reasons but I must be able to articulate their reports into vocationally-relevant terminology and tell a story about meaningful and gainful work. And it can be challenging to do this if I don’t understand the conclusion of the FCE report to begin with!

WORK

I love reading medical data rich in detail about a person’s world of functioning!  And I love writing reports rich with detail about a person’s world of work! 

A functional capacity evaluation is actually a term with various definitions, purposes and constructs. The purpose is to  evaluate an individual’s capacity to perform work activities related to his or her participation in employment. It seems that in essence, by having a functional capacity evaluation a person is likely to be put in an unfortunate position of deciding whether he or she is willing to return to work.  If willing, there’s a way. If not, there’s no way.

From what I know, there are approximately 10 different types of commonly used functional capacity evaluations. Here in Iowa, I am most familiar with FCEs with names like the Isernhagen Work System, the Blankenship, Matheson, WorkWell and X-RTS. The reliability or validity of any system is somewhat irrelevant to me because the testing is already entered into “evidence”. What is relevant to me is whether or not I comprehend the results and recommendations contained within the evaluation.

Sometimes I can, sometimes I cannot. I always use a “Does This Make Sense to Me? test!

Image result for conflictingIt’s up to the dualing physical therapists to make their best points during litigation, I’m not in that ring!

I feel fortunate of connections with several physical therapists allowing insight into their clinical practice. I attend continuing education programs, and recall one that helped me understand various approaches to FCE’s specifically the X-RTS Lever Arm.

Thinking Cap

The X-RTS Lever Arm passes my make sense test!

So within the context of my vocational consulting work while cautiously putting any judgment aside (which seems hard when I know I know certain things), I analyze and compare each FCE while considering the testing results.

I analyze and compare FCEs! Whoa!

I note whether the FCE report is readable and user friendly. I assess if I understand terminology and methods used, how long testing was administered, what actually was administered, the claimant’s behavior during the test, and how the evaluator came to his or her conclusions. Does it make sense?

I look for descriptors regarding the results of testing in relation to real jobs. Are there concrete and realistic recommendations regarding strengths and weaknesses in relation to performing physical demand levels of various work situations? I definitely look for the goals and expectations for the evaluation, and whether maximum and consistent effort was made by the evaluee. Comments on the suitability of the testee’s future employment options along with the evaluator’s observations are valuable and should be included.

Thinking Cap

Continuing on with analyzing and comparing FCEs! Whoa! It’s important to note what body part/extremity the therapist focuses on in relation to what body part/extremity was injured. For example in one report, the therapist discussed lower extremity activities, when in fact it was an upper extremity injury. If the report cites examples or uses too many percentages, it’s important to understand how the therapist justifies examples. I’m familiar with a therapist who changes the percentages of the same examples from report to report. That doesn’t make sense to me.

I try really hard to make sense of most things and situations!  No sense

If I am able to square an FCE in my mind after careful and prolonged study, is it possible the claimant could do the same? That  would be  fortunate, especially if the therapist offers good recommendations that make sense!

How does the evaluee, when not truly the therapists’  patient when referred for an FCE by their own work comp attorney; with an additional FCE visit to a different physical therapist by the defense attorney  (that makes 2 different reports prepared by 2 different therapists) perceive discrepancies in the results? Sadly, in my eyes the FCE often gets “interpreted” through an attorney. The repeated pattern of thinking of one’s functional capacity as “poor” does not help anyone return to work.

If there is an IME (Independent Medical Exam), it may seem more geared towards one of the FCEs. Regardless, I try to comprehend all reports, noting the one I understand the most. I’m not so sure that an IME is really a “fresh set of eyes” in the workers’ compensation cases I’ve worked on. This topic is another blog in itself.

Putting both, or multiple opinions in a vocational report and making use of other documentation to support my ultimate and final opinion is a great idea, however I have to be cautious to not put myself in a role that isn’t mine (which is making a medical opinion which I can’t do).

If I am able to provide a doctor (ideally the most recent treating occupational health or rehabilitation doctor) detailed information directly related to a specific occupation or line of work and any resources that could help the doctor understand how such work is performed in a smart, safe and effective manner, many benefits arise.

Related image

Clean your lenses!

There’s a clearer understanding of the vocational rehabilitation process and with agreement from all involved, there’s a higher likelihood one could see a successful common outcome (return to work). This certainly helps solidify my vocational opinion and make reasonable recommendations. Yet, this type of opportunity is not frequently available (it is for me to though through processing a life care plan!). Please know I always search for a way to best express my vocational opinion.

In my reports, I document what medical records I’ve reviewed and then use the actual words from the individual during an interview (or deposition review) describing how s/he details their physical impairment.  Often I hear verbatim what one doctor wrote in their restrictions. The evaluee will respond to my open questioning about any physical limitations (sometimes after the evaluee refers to his/her doctor’s letter) and read or have it memorized saying: “no lifting over 20 pounds, avoid twisting, bending, stooping, sit and stand as needed.”  No sense

What do those words really mean in real life? The individual doesn’t seem to know either. Ask an employer if they have a job that involves no lifting over 20 pounds, no twisting, no bending, no stooping, no this, no that…and that’s not talking their language!

The evaluee who responds to me in this fashion (using verbatim restrictive words) needs future vocational counseling. Vocational counseling (which may or may not be provided depending on the nature of the litigation) helps to gain a clearer understanding of how the person’s medical situation has changed their daily living (especially in the context of their own world of work). This understanding leads to the ability to articulate the individual’s capacity for success to others (family, friends, job interviewers, etc.).

Please keep in mind, the term “restriction” is not conducive to a successful job search. The ability to explain who you are and what you can do from a functional perspective to help a business make or save money is what is conducive to a successful job search. Restrictions should never be the focus of job placement. Skills are!

Rehabilitation counseling is especially important if the individual is searching for a job, requiring job seeking skills training on how to or (how not to) disclose disability or any functional limitation. The personal attributes gained from training helps the placement process move forward with common goals avoiding getting stuck within a few words that don’t apply to working reality.

WORKWhile staying true to my convictions and firm beliefs that a person can work if the person wants to work and has the capacity to work, I need to understand the dichotomy between science and clinical practice is more imagined than real.

If healthcare professionals submit conflicting reports on the same individual, I need to be able to resolve inconsistencies to better understand and appreciate the opinions offered. It is not my role to determine which opinion is correct. It is my role to utilize available information, provide a beneficial service, and make a sound vocational opinion regarding the individual’s strengths and weakness in relation to work capacity and employability.

Matching People With Their World of WorkIt’s rewarding when I can clarify a person’s sense of their own world of work.

I strive to extend the value of FCEs in the litigation process. I am trained not only in understanding a client’s functional abilities at work, but at home and at leisure. (Need a life care plan?) Together my knowledge with those of other experts, contributes to decisions about the economic losses, or damages, for which the person receives compensation.

Thank you for reading this long post! I’m here to help attorneys like you help your client. Contact me at amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com  and let me get to work for you!

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Happy 20th Anniversary Vocational Resources Plus! Time to Stop and Smell The Roses!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Over the years, I’ve received many a rose and enjoy taking pictures of my favorites.  My plan was to find 20 single rose pictures to celebrate the beginning of 20 years in business, which officially is September of 2019, but it became too much work to go through so many photos!

Instead, I changed my mind and decided to come close with my count and not worry about the math, especially when at this time it’s time to

Stop and Smell the Roses!

and be satisfied with my efforts because I gave it my all at this time, as I always do for my work! You too? I’ll bet you do (even though I’m not into betting)! Enjoy the photos that follow and read on!

Tiny Orange Rose
Orange Rose
Beautiful Rose yes

 

 

Ohhhhh!    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All beautiful, yes, I agree! Go ahead and vote on your favorite. I wish you could scratch and sniff each to also let know your thoughts on which you believe smells the best! 

And to be totally honest, the next rose picture was not taken by me!  Incredible, isn’t it…would’ve you guessed this was a find (on an internet search) or actually taken by me? I’ve received blue roses in the past, and my pictures are just too blurry…even when editing. My disclaimer explains

I’ve named this beauty Ghost Rose!

Just to summarize this “author special” post, what’s important to point out is my business has developed for over 19 years. Because my work is important it needs to be clear, simple and pass the “smell test”. 

At times, if an answer to a question or a report on a particular individual or issue is not “perfect”, a decision of what to do next can be unnecessarily stressful. My “best bet” is giving my cases my full attention, and be satisfied with the fact that I put forth my best effort. I’m okay with that with other professionals.

That’s worth, in my opinion, every dollar paid for all the roses Randy’s hand  delivered to me over the years! Hey you reader, wouldn’t it be nice to have some rose beauties of your own, or to hand deliver to a great friend? Make a valuable  impression! One last link regarding my forensic services, fyi.

Contact me 515-778-0634 or amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com to discuss your case and how I help attorneys help clients. Thank you for reading my blog. I appreciate the time and the attention!

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.