People of the U: Kaleigh Reynolds
Published on Monday, June 8, 2020
By: Kate Royals
Kaleigh Reynolds, an occupational therapist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, had never even heard of occupational therapy seven years ago.
But a gruesome arm injury during a high school soccer game made the introduction.
Reynolds collided with a player from the opposite team, fell backwards and tried to catch herself. The result was a compound fracture of her distal radius, or wrist. A complication during the healing process resulted in extensive nerve damage of her hand, which then led her to an occupational therapist.
“I was in weeks of OT and had shockingly never heard of OT at that time in my life,” said Reynolds. “I had no idea that God’s plan was to have me experience a time of pain and frustration to essentially provide the foundation of my education and career.”
Reynolds remembers sitting next to an elderly patient who had suffered a stroke and was re-learning to use her hand.
“It was truly a humbling experience … here I was at 18 and learning to use my hand again the way they were,” she said.
Thanks to what she describes as a “very tough and wonderful OT,” she regained full use of her hand and discovered a career about which she is passionate.
Today, Reynolds works in adult acute care where she focuses on helping patients with activities of daily living, including dressing, eating and bathing. She works with patients who have had strokes, spinal cord injuries, vision loss, traumatic brain injury and orthopaedic injuries, among others.
She also fabricates completely custom orthotics or splints that she makes from derma plastic material.
Amy Mayhue, assistant director of rehabilitation services at UMMC, hired Reynolds as a new graduate in 2018.
“She immediately hit the ground running and hasn’t stopped since,” said Mayhue. “She has an excellent ability to see the big picture and think outside the box. She is well-liked by her coworkers and her patients, always ready to work on a new initiative and always gives 100 percent.”
When Reynolds isn’t working with patients, she takes advantage of her seven days on and seven days off schedule to travel as much as she can. In 2019 she made seven week-long trips between the west and east coast and made two international trips.
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