The Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals (ASCIP) recently announced that Liza Criswell, OTR, ATP, an occupational therapist at TIRR Memorial Hermann, has been named the 2020 recipient of the Therapy Leadership Council Distinguished Clinician Award. The recognition is given to a member of the organization who has demonstrated outstanding clinical contributions in the area of spinal cord injury and spinal cord disorder (SCI/D). The award was presented to Criswell via pre-recorded Zoom in September 2020.
Criswell says she is passionate about educating both her patients and her peers. For the past few years, she has had opportunities to teach and co-teach continuing education courses on the topics of neurogenic bowel and bladder management, and sexuality after SCI.
“As OTs, we address clothing management, impaired hand dexterity, use of assistive devices, positioning and other ways to help patients gain independence,” Criswell says. “OTs also address sexuality with SCI/D patients. This is such an important aspect of people’s lives, so I incorporate the topic of sexuality in day-to-day interactions with patients in a nonchalant way so they feel comfortable. When we are talking about grooming and hygiene, I work the topic into that conversation. Sexuality is not just about performing sexual activities, but it also encompasses body image, intimacy, reproductive capabilities, gender identities/roles and sexual orientation.”
Criswell also says that bowel and bladder management is one of the most liberating skills that that a SCI patient can have. “When patients can perform these tasks independently, it means they can leave the house and be out and about in the community. Addressing bowel and bladder management is also a great segue for me to initiate conversation on sexuality.”
“This award means so much to me,” Criswell says. “Being an OT at TIRR Memorial Hermann for more than two decades, 18 years of that with the SCI and Specialty Rehab team, it gives me joy to help nurture and enhance my patients’ skills to achieve their fullest potential. We start building the foundation in inpatient rehab and outpatient therapy helps polish those skills. It gives me a sense of satisfaction and pride to see my former patients thrive in the community.”
For the 33rd consecutive year, TIRR Memorial Hermann is recognized as the best rehabilitation hospital in Texas and No. 2 in the nation according to U.S. News and World Report's "Best Rehabilitation Hospitals" in America.Learn More