When a patient’s life turns upside down in an instant, Kristy Bright is there to reestablish normalcy. As an occupational therapist at CoxHealth’s Bone and Joint Center, she assists patients transitioning through rehabilitation following an injury.
“This involves care from initiation of rehabilitation to resolution of symptoms and reestablishing entry into our Ozarks community,” Bright says. “Helping patients improve their quality of life, from a simple injury to a catastrophic life-altering injury, is a true blessing for me.”
After completing OT prerequisites at Missouri State University, Bright earned a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from University of Missouri-Columbia. In 2003, she was employed by Mercy in Springfield where she served at the in-patient burn and outpatient pediatrics departments. She was employed at CoxHealth later that year and has spent 16 years with the medical system. Bright is specialized in hand therapy with a certificate from the Hand Therapy Certification Commission and is the first and only CoxHealth OT certified in hand dry needling, a treatment for pain relief.
“Regaining functional use, lost motion and strength, and resolving pain for my patients, are amazing ways I get to help them every day,” Bright says.
Bright’s job at the Bone and Joint Center is multifaceted, including aspects of patient care that go beyond typical habilitation roles. Bright additionally custom designs fabricated orthosis devices to stabilize an injured appendage.
“Custom fabrication of an orthosis is a very creative process and is much fun for the therapist,” she says. “Helping relieve a patient’s pain or give them protection to lessen their fears of an injury is an amazing job benefit.”
Bright’s career is personally motivated after watching her mother suffer an aneurysm, an event that requires years of therapy upon potential survival. Bright says selecting occupational therapy as a career at 18 years old was her best professional decision.
“My desire to help my mom initially has grown to a desire to help others,” she says. “Talking about and listening to my patients’ thoughts, concerns and celebrating their achievements are all integral parts in the healing process, which I try not to take for granted.”
Bright is a member and leader of the CoxHealth teams for Customer Service, People and Service Recovery System Wide.
She volunteers as a clinical instructor for all levels of OT students ranging from pre-enrollment to doctoral. Bright is also involved in state legislation advocating for laws she believes would impact effective and accessible patient care. She is a Care to Learn sponsor, member of two parent teacher associations, involved in sports booster clubs, a CoxHealth Foundation sponsor, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital sponsor and involved with the local chapter of Children’s Miracle Network.
“One common thread of my career is people,” Bright says. “I am very thankful that my career path puts wonderful people in my life every day which gives me an opportunity to learn from them, help them physically, emotionally and sometimes spiritually.”
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