Post Intensive Care Syndrome, or PICS, may be relatively new as a formal diagnosis, however it is a very real condition patients and/or their family may experience after spending time in ICU. In episode four of The Speechless SLP series, Anna Lewis, Clinical Social Worker, talks about what PICs is and types of care during and after critical illnesses that can help with recovery. Vanessa Abraham speaks about dealing with her symptoms after her time in ICU, and the benefits of her participation in a PICS support group.
Discussion & Reflection Questions
- How might the different approaches of an interdisciplinary team help your clients/patients?
- If your patients/clients may not be able to cognitively process treatment at the time, is there a way you can document their care to give to them and/or their families to help them understand later?
- How would your clients/patients’ quality of life benefit from various forms of palliative care as part of their treatment?
Keep the Conversation Going
Do you want to know more about Post Intensive Care Syndrome (PICs)? Below are some of the organizations and groups Anna recommended in this podcast.
The Society of Critical Care Medicine
The Critical and Acute Illness Recovery Organization (CAIRO)
CAIRO on Twitter @CAIROrg
“For patients with PICS, my best advice is find your community. Find your people that are going to remind you that you’re not alone. For family members, believe your loved one about what they’re experiencing, and when they say that it’s real, it’s real.”
– Anna Lewis
Anna Lewis, MSW, LCSW
Anna Lewis (she/her) is a PhD student in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. As a graduate student researcher, Anna’s work focuses on Medicaid beneficiaries and the effects of permanent supportive housing.
Prior to returning to graduate school, Anna worked as a senior social worker at the Critical Illness Recovery Center at UPMC Mercy, one of the most comprehensive outpatient follow-up clinics for survivors of prolonged intensive care unit stays in the nation. Anna also worked as an inpatient palliative care social worker for several years. Anna received her Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies from The Pennsylvania State University in 2010. She attained her Master of Social Work degree with a certificate in mental health in 2012 from the University of Pittsburgh, and she is also a licensed clinical social worker.
Anna lives in Pittsburgh with her husband Sean, five-year-old son Sam, and dog Nittany.
Vanessa is a wife, mother and school based Speech-Language Pathologist.
She learned firsthand what it’s like to be on the receiving end of speech services after experiencing a sudden-onset critical illness that left her with limb and neck paralysis as well as a PEG tube and tracheotomy.
She was thrown into the rehabilitation world after being an independent, healthy and vibrant young mother. Through many swallow studies, voice therapy, OT and PT, she had to learn to eat, talk and move again.
Her goal now is to help people critically ill patients cope with the grief they experience after a critical illness through speaking up about the topic of Post Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS), depression and anxiety post ICU in addition to educating families and patients about the various rehab modalities that have been successful for her.
Contact Vanessa Abraham
“You need to be able to heal your mind to heal your body. Your head needs to be in the right place. I’ve done so many things for mental health. But the PICS group, being around other PICS survivors, hearing their stories, has helped me more than anything. Just knowing that I’m not alone. It makes me feel whole again. It makes me feel normal, in a way.”
– Vanessa Abraham
“One of the reasons why I do this podcast is to learn about approaches like this, in teams like this, and work that other people are doing that we can share and learn and integrate.
– Mattie Murrey-Tegels
Mattie Murrey Tegel, MA, CCC-SLP, L, CPC, CLSC
Medical Speech-Language Pathologist and Founder of Fresh SLP
Mattie Murrey-Tegels is the founder and SLP behind Fresh SLP and The Missing Link for SLPs Podcast. She’s been “in-the-trenches” as a medical SLP around the world for over 25 years and now an Assistant Professor for 3 years. She is thrilled to be adding this dream of a podcast because paying her experiences forward is something she is very passionate about. If you ask her patients and students, one thing they will remember is how much she loves her job! She may not look like it but she is a huge introvert and when she is not actively working as an SLP, she is almost always reading, writing (writing over 1,000,000 words a year), or listening to amazing Chicago Blues bands. She also loves being outdoors and definitely enjoys soaking up the sun at her home in Minnesota, where warm and sunny days can be limited. She’s ridden motorcycles for many years, raced sled dogs, hiked huge mountains yet she cherishes the quiet moments of climbing into a hammock to nap or timeless conversations with friends and family.
The Missing Link for SLPs podcast and Fresh SLP is her legacy, giving back to a career that has so richly rewarded her.
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Not a substitute for a formal SLP education or medical advice for patients/caregivers.