April is Occupational Therapy (OT) Awareness Month. In recognition of all the outstanding OTs across UofL Health, we are spotlighting Michael Downs, OTR/L, an outpatient occupational therapist with UofL Health – Frazier Rehabilitation Institute at UofL Health – Mary & Elizabeth Hospital.
Michael has worked at Frazier Rehab Institute at Mary & Elizabeth Hospital for the last 15 years. Before joining UofL Health, Michael worked in long-term care and sub-acute health care settings but had always wanted to work in an outpatient therapy setting. A co-worker told him about the new outpatient Frazier Rehab Institute location at Mary & Elizabeth Hospital, and the rest is history.
Do you know the difference between occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT)? Let Michael give you the scoop. Occupational therapy uses occupations (i.e., activities, hobbies or tasks) addressing deficits from injury, illness, disability or other conditions so that the patient can return to or maximize independence with daily activities of life.
“Many of my patients are those with orthopedic and neurological conditions,” Michael explained. “I treat various upper extremity orthopedic injuries and neurological conditions such as cerebrovascular accident (CVA), Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury (TBI), acquired brain injury (ABI), lymphedema and cancer care.”
Michael’s favorite thing about UofL Health is his team and work atmosphere that optimizes their patient’s experience to make them feel like family. His role impacts the organization and the community by improving the lives of those who seek care in outpatient rehabilitation. In many cases, Michael and his team help patients return to their roles as caregivers, parents, workforce members, athletes or other important aspects of life.
“Patients frequently thank us for giving them their lives back since we restore their function,” Michael said.
Michael lives out the UofL Health mission by listening to his patients and asking questions that go beyond the surface. He strives to uncover the patient’s entire issue and to give patients a sense of ownership in their care while ensuring optimal outcomes for healing.
Originally from Louisville, Michael spent much of his childhood in Cleveland, Ohio, where he found a love for the Cleveland Browns. Despite the rough years, he still cheers them on every season.
If you’re a Stephen King fan, be sure to connect with Michael. He loves and has read most of his books, but his favorites are “The Stand” and “The Gunslinger.”
Michael embraces the outdoors. In his free time, Michael loves to spend time with his family, going camping, hiking or watching sports. He has coached his children in football, basketball and soccer, and will soon be a trained archery coach.
Michael’s favorite mantra to live by is through the words of the Star Wars character Master Yoda: “Do or do not. There is no try.”
If you see Michael out and about, be sure to ask about what different countries he has visited or about his favorite dad joke. He would love to get to know you!