Alexa I. Smith, OTR/L came to the Vereen Rehabilitation Center as an Occupational Therapist in 2017. A graduate of Auburn University, Alexa completed her Master’s in occupational therapy at Nova Southeastern University in 2016.
Alexa, born and raised in Colquitt County, resides once again in Moultrie with her husband Brandon, who is a physical therapist at the Vereen Center. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family – which also includes Vereen Team PTA Jessica Edwards – playing tennis, and being an active member of the Moultrie Junior Woman’s Club.
Within the scope of occupational therapy practice Alexa is interested in the treatment of all injuries, and she will work in the areas of both inpatient and outpatient care as a member of the Vereen Team.
Alexa Smith has been at the Vereen Center and Colquitt Regional Medical Center as an Occupational Therapist since March of 2017. Although she spends most of her time at the hospital, she has many certifications to be qualified in both places.
Smith grew up in Moultrie, Georgia, and even attended Colquitt High School. After she graduated in 2009, she enrolled at Auburn University and got her degree in Exercise Science in 2013. She then made her way to Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and graduated with a master’s in Occupational Therapy in November 2016.
Smith said that her interest in Occupational Therapy began when she was young and still figuring out what she wanted to do after high school. “I kind of got into the track of Occupational Therapy in high school,” she said. “I became interested in Physical Therapy, wasn’t really sure what Occupational Therapy actually was at that point, but somewhere along the line in college I got interesting in Occupational Therapy and started to do more research in it and decided that was the route I wanted to go.”
After her schooling, Smith and her husband, who is also an Occupational Therapist at the Vereen Center, moved backed to Moultrie. “I was excited to become an Occupational Therapist here at the Vereen Center,” Smith said. “My family is from Moultrie. I grew up here, so we couldn’t wait to get back and enjoy the community.”
Smith’s decision to seriously enter the field was because of the impact she could have on others. “I decided I wanted to join the field of Occupational Therapy because I felt like I had a calling to help others, and I felt with Occupational Therapy I could really do that,” she said. “We look at how you’re doing with all your activities and daily living – so getting dressed, bathing, grooming, everything that’s meaningful to you. We help you get back to that, performing at the level you want to, so I feel like that’s truly what drew me into Occupational Therapy.”
The day-to-day life of an Occupational Therapist can focus on a lot of the small things that people may not consider, according to Smith. “We help you get back to your activities and daily living you live by,” she said. “We do strength training, and we can work on endurance, and then we also incorporate those activities into our treatment sessions. So, if we need to work on bathing, we are going to incorporate that into your treatment session. Or if we need to work on dressing, that’s what we will be focusing on in your treatment session and doing the things that you need to be able to do when you go home.”
Smith revealed the most common diagnosis she sees on a daily basis. “A patient who has had a stroke, patients who are just in here because they feel weak and just need a little extra strengthening, just want some endurance before they go home,” Smith said. “Patients who have had a fall at home, and we may need to work on safety with getting around the house, safety with your occupations.”
One aspect of her job Smith enjoys is watching her patients grow stronger and stronger every day. “I love to see the progress that people make,” she said. “When I first see them, they’re having difficulty even reaching down to put their sock on, or they don’t have enough motion to put their shirt on. I love to see the progress that they make through the time that we’re together, where they are able to complete their activities that they live with. And maybe it’s a little different from the way they did it before, or maybe it takes a little longer for them to do it, but I love to see that progress and love to see the reaction from the patient when they feel like they’ve completed something and they’ve made their progress.”
Smith said that getting to know the patients and remembering that everyone has different struggles helps her relate to the patients and earn their trust to get the best outcome. “Everybody has a different story, a different background, so not every therapy session goes the same way every day,” she said. “Building a relationship with our patient is definitely important. There has to be trust there; they have to trust that you really care about them and that you really want the best for them. Without that trust they can hold back and be fearful, but building that trust and getting to know the patient helps the therapy process go smoother. I try to earn people’s trust by making connections with them. Finding out what they use to do, what they still do, what they like to do now. I like to build that relationship with them first, and the trust comes after that.”
The Vereen Center has a quality that relates to both patients and staff, and Smith thinks that future endeavors in the center will promote that even further. “Everybody here works together as a team,” Smith said. “From doctors and nurses to case managers, our ultimate goal is to serve the patient. I am excited to see the possibility of a pediatric program developing here because there is such a need for it in our community. I feel like there are a lot of children that could benefit from Occupational Therapy.”
When Smith and her husband Brandon are not working at the Vereen Center, they enjoy a wide range of hobbies and extracurricular activities. “Away from work I really enjoy playing sports and being active in any way,” she said. “I still enjoy playing tennis, playing church league basketball. And then spending time with family.” Their family now includes Bradley, the Smiths’ first son, who was born in March.
Smith’s last piece of advice can be beneficial for both patients and non-patients. “Be active, stay involved, keep performing everything that is meaningful to you that gives you joy and that gives you pleasure,” she said. “Keep doing those things.”