Leland’s story: hope and healing after a serious injury

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By Jessica Sly, Communications Specialist


The date was Feb. 6, 2017. Carpenter Leland Elgin was hard at work cutting a piece of flooring on a table saw. Just as he reached the end, the piece kicked back toward the blade, taking his left hand with it. His thumb and three fingers were severed.Leland working with physical therapy to regain strength from his hand injury

“I looked at my hand and everything was just dangling there,” he recalled. “I must’ve gone into shock right away because I just kept on walking right to the ambulance and got in.”

The emergency department physician at TCHC determined that Leland needed extensive surgical intervention, so he was airlifted to North Memorial in the Cities. A nearly 10-hour surgery connected Leland’s digits back to his hand, transferring veins and nerves from other parts of his body to restore feeling in his fingers.

“It’s unreal what they can do,” he said. Unfortunately, his index finger was too damaged and couldn’t be saved.

Within the first month and a half following his accident, Leland had six surgeries, and then he was ready to start physical therapy.

Because Leland lives near Bertha and Eagle Bend, he chose rehabilitation at TCHC’s Bertha Physical Therapy Clinic with Travis Rasinski, DPT. They started with mobilization in his fingers to loosen the scar tissue and kept his hand wrapped to reduce swelling.

“They wanted to get it limbered up because everything was stiff. Nothing worked,” Leland said. “When we first started, Travis was just trying to get everything moving. It’s kind of weird because you can hear it breaking loose every so often, but Travis loves it.”

Leland working with Rehab to restore function in his hand after a serious injury.Travis worked manually with each finger and coached Leland through exercises such as picking up objects, turning keys and working with weights.

After three months, Leland returned to work. It helped to keep him occupied, as well as contributed to the healing process. “I was going crazy sitting at home,” he said. “At first, it was a little tough. It seemed like a lot harder work. It’s just overcompensating for what you can’t do with that hand and figuring out different ways to do things. You get used to it.”

A surgery scheduled in September was meant to connect Leland’s tendons to return independent movement to his fingers. Unfortunately, it wasn’t successful.

Leland resumed physical therapy, where Travis used ultrasound to soften the new scar tissue and worked to loosen the joints in each finger. He also stabilized Leland’s right shoulder to compensate for the extra use.

After months of work, they restored the movement in his elbow and wrist and got some range of motion back in his first knuckles. However, his grip strength and functional capacity will never go back to normal.

“It’s a unique case for sure. You forget what you take for granted,” Travis said. “Leland’s a highly motivated, hard-working patient.”Leland Elgin and physical therapist, Travis Rasinksi

Leland credits his incredible surgeons and Travis’ hard work with getting him to where he is today in terms of functionality.

It’s been almost exactly a year since the accident, and throughout that time, Leland has experienced a range of triumphs and setbacks, both physically and emotionally. But he’s not letting it keep him down.

“At first I kinda thought, ‘Oh, great.’ Then I realized it is what it is, and I’ve just got to do the best I can with it,” he said, and he had the same message for others who may be experiencing physical difficulties. “Push as hard as you can. Do as much as you can do. Something will come around. Something will work out. It’s just figuring out different ways to do it.”



Photo of Jessica Sly, the author for this blog post.About the Author: Jessica Sly has been working as a communication specialist at TCHC since May 2017. A Wadena native, she graduated from the University of Northwestern – St. Paul in 2012 with a degree in English with a writing concentration. She is a word nerd, lover of all things Disney, self-proclaimed crazy cat lady and devoted Minnesota Vikings fan (SKOL).

Verti-“go” away!

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You’re lying in bed awaiting the buzz of your alarm. When it finally sounds, you peel back the comforter, drape your legs over the side and sit up.

Bam! Your eyes start spinning, the room whirls and you feel as though you might topple over. In a few moments, the abrupt sensation fades, but the sense of unease remains.


When the world keeps spinning

If you’ve experienced this scenario or others like it, you might have what’s called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or, simply put, positional vertigo. It’s caused when tiny, gravity-sensing Vertigo - Head Positioning 1crystals in your ear break loose and fall into the canals of your inner ear, which control your balance. These crystals start interrupting signals and send the wrong input to your brain, making you hypersensitive to movement.

Symptoms include dizziness associated with movement, nausea, vomiting, loss of balance and the feeling that your surroundings are spinning. It can occur at any age but is more common in adults older than 40. Though symptoms typically don’t last too long for each episode, they can hit you hard and fast.

Joanne Lynk of Wadena knows exactly what that’s like. A couple months ago, she began experiencing positional vertigo symptoms. They were triggered by tilting her head back too far, sitting up after lying down or rolling over from her left side. She endured about a month of this until it gradually worsened.

“I would tilt my head back to put eye drops in, and that’s when it would hit so hard,” she said. “The room would just totally spin. I couldn’t sit still while upright. I would sway back and forth, side to side.”

After a particularly strong spell in the morning, Lynk visited ReadyCare at Tri-County Health Care, where she was given medication to stabilize her system and referred to Tri Rehab Services if her symptoms continued.

Lynk tried the medication but didn’t see results, so she decided to try rehab.


A fast solution

In physical therapy, positional vertigo is treated by gently moving the head through a variety of positions to coax the crystals into another part of your ear. This non-invasive treatment takes about 15 minutes, and for the rest of the day, patients are instructed not to bend over or lie down so that the crystals have a chance to stay in place. By the next day, most people feel back to normal.

Resting after vertigo treatment“Positional vertigo is one of the easiest things we can treat with physical therapy, and we can treat it so quickly,” said Tim Sly, physical therapist. “Usually with one to two treatments, it’s gone.”

However, not all vertigo is positional vertigo and could be caused by other factors, such as medications, brain injuries or blows to the head, so it’s important to have it diagnosed properly.

“If you’re dizzy all day long even when you’re not moving, that’s not positional vertigo,” Sly explained. “Positional vertigo is usually just brought on by certain movements. It comes in spells and goes away quickly.”

Following her first treatment, Lynk experienced immediate, positive results and was astonished to find her dizziness had vanished.

“I left there, and about a half hour later, I was thinking, ‘This is the most clear-headed I have felt in a long time. Have I just always been a little dizzy all the time?’” she recalled. “The next morning, I felt just as clear-headed and awesome as I did after the treatment. It was just amazing.”

Positional vertigo is incredibly common, and the physical therapists and physical therapist assistants at Tri Rehab Services want everyone to know that there is a fast solution, that you don’t have to endure this any longer.

“I see people almost every other week with vertigo. The key is not to suffer for months thinking it will go away,” Sly said. “Get to therapy because we can fix positional vertigo quickly and get you back to feeling your best.”

For more information or to see if physical therapy is right for you, click here or call 218-631-7475.

Could abnormal posture be the source of your pain?

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By Erin Boesl, Physical Therapist, Henning Physical Therapy Clinic


The human body is asymmetrical. Our internal organs and bodily systems – neurological, respiratory, circulatory, muscular and vision – are not the same on the left side of the body as they are on the right. Even with this asymmetry, we create balance in how we move.

But sometimes, we can develop postural imbalances. Posture is the way our body is positioned when sitting or standing. Abnormal posture can develop at a young age or through daily, occupational and repetitive work.

Physical Therapist works with a patient on leg exercises.People also often overuse the dominant side of their body. Over time, this can lead to chronic muscle overuse or underuse, inflammation and pain. The pain then leads to other impairments and functional limitations, so we might not be able to complete daily activities.

Physical therapy is a great solution to posture imbalance.

We can perform an evaluation and develop a personalized treatment plan to suit your needs.

One of my patients, Jessica Strege, came to me with a pinched nerve in her neck and shoulder, as well as some chronic back pain. I discovered that most of her pain came from abnormal posture that actually stemmed from her diaphragm and pelvis.

Over six weeks, we used exercises to turn on and turn off certain muscles to improve her alignment. When muscles are in the correct resting position, they can begin strengthening more efficiently. After her treatment ended, Jessica said she no longer has pain every day like she did before.

If you have daily pain or postural imbalances, a physical therapist could help you find relief.


The following are some examples of imbalances or habits that might indicate bad posture.



  • Asymmetry of the head and face. This means that one side doesn’t mirror the other side.
  • You can turn your head farther to one side.
  • One shoulder is higher than the other (typically left).Physical Therapist works with patient on leg exercises.
  • One shoulder blade protrudes more.
  • You can raise one arm higher than the other.
  • You can reach behind your back farther with one arm.
  • Your ribs protrude more in the front on one side (typically left).
  • Your chest expands more on one side when you breathe.
  • One side of your pelvis is higher.
  • One leg appears longer.
  • One foot turns out more than the other when standing or walking.
  • Your trunk can rotate more to one side than the other.
  • You have scoliosis with a right rib hump.
  • You have overdeveloped back or calf muscles on one side.


Faulty habits:

  • Sleeping on one side.
  • Always crossing legs one way while sitting.
  • Putting more weight on one leg when standing (typically right).
  • Turning your head to one side when reading.
  • Always holding a baby on one side.


Do you identify with any of these? If the answer is yes, now would be a great time for you to make an appointment with a physical therapist to see how we could help. Tri-County Health Care has rehab clinics in Henning, 218-548-5580; Bertha, 218-924-2250; and Wadena, 218-631-7475.

For more information, click here.


Erin with her family posing for a family photo.

Erin and her family.

About the Author: Erin Boesl, Doctor of Physical Therapy, has completed training with the Postural Restoration Institute. She can perform a specialized postural assessment and develop an appropriate treatment plan tailored to your postural asymmetry and dysfunction. Erin has worked for Tri-County Health care for 12 years, most currently at the Henning Physical Therapy Clinic. She is also a wife and mother of four children and resides in Parkers Prairie with her family.

Tri-Aquatics Gives Moms Some Relaxation and Strengthening

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By: Andrea Pettit, Tri-County Health Care Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA)

Andrea with her family.

The water is a great environment to be in when you are pregnant! Water can help with swelling, and the buoyancy of water can help take some pressure from the baby off of your pelvis. Our therapy pool is a warm 90-92 degrees, not too warm for you and your baby, but it allows great relaxation for those achy, sore muscles. It feels great!

With my last pregnancy, I was in the pool three days a week, and it was awesome to be able to continue to exercise without pain. Then, after Boone was born, getting back in the pool was a great place for me to start core-strengthening exercises.

Tri-Aquatics started about two years ago with some of the staff participating in special training. Stacey Callahan, PT, DPT, and I recently attended continuing education aquatic classes aimed at female clients and have even more great things to share with you. We learned specific stretches and strengthening exercises, such as hip flexor stretches and modified yoga stretching and strengthening to help relieve pain and keep you active throughout your pregnancy.

You don’t need a membership at the Maslowski Wellness and Research Center (MAS) to join the Moms Course, and the class is free. Yes, free!

If you need further work with physical therapy, it could be covered under your insurance. You do not need to wear a swimsuit. It can be shorts and a T-shirt if that’s what you’re comfortable in. In fact, a lot of our patients wear shorts and a T-shirt.

Can’t wait to see you in class!

*Our next Moms Course will be held on Monday, May 22, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the MAS, and you’re invited! The instructors are Stacey Callahan, PT, DPT, and Andrea Pettit, PTA.

To register, click here. Class size is limited to 10 attendees.


Why You Should Make Your New Year’s Resolution Early

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By: Stacey Callahan, PT, DPT

Stacey & her family

Stacey & her family

The holiday season is here and with that comes a lot of joy and time spent with family. However, it also seems to bring a time that is so busy, stressful and money strained that we tend to not take care of ourselves as we try to make it through until the New Year. We think, at that point, we can start new resolutions and start taking care of ourselves because we’ll have more time, money, and energy.

Well, if we could take those stressors away, wouldn’t you start now? There are some simple ways to fit exercise into your week that will not break the bank or cause you to stress over extra time spent on working out. If you can simply fit 3 – 10 minute slots of exercise into your day, you can build strength, improve endurance, and feel healthier in general. Maybe get up 10 minutes early to do a few band exercises, walk 10 minutes at lunch, and then stretch for 10 minutes in the evening. Simple as that, 30 minutes have been spent exercising for the day!running

Exercise bands are fairly inexpensive and can be found at Wal-Mart or online on websites such as Amazon for as low as $5.50. See below for some great resistance band exercise’s that you can do right from home that can improve your posture, walking pattern and strength overall. Add this in with some walking and you will be on your way to better energy levels, feeling less stressed, and maybe keeping a few of those holiday pounds off! Strengthening exercises can be done every other day, so your body has some time to rest. Walking can be more often. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week.  Many of the local schools offer walking hours for free, which can be a great place to start during this wintery weather.

So why not get your body moving now so you can feel healthy and energized through the holidays? Let’s start those New Year’s Resolutions early this year!

About the Author: Stacey has been a Physical Therapist at Tri-County since 2013. Her husband Matt and her live in Verndale and keep busy with their 5-month-old baby boy Emmet. They enjoy hunting, fishing and spending time with family and friends.






How I found my dream profession through the Summer Internship Program…

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By: Taylor Shamp

I believe I was in the 6th grade when I was first brought into see a physical therapist at Tri-County Health Care. It was those few weeks into my recovery when my gut told me “this is what you want to do with your life.”

Taylor playing High School Volleyball.

Taylor playing High School Volleyball for Bertha-Hewitt.

I am an up and coming senior at Bertha-Hewitt High School and daughter of not only one, but two Tri-County Health Care employees! My dad, Adam, works with the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) crew and my mom, Medley, with the Care Coordination team. I am also a three sport athlete, captain of the basketball team, recently elected as Bertha-Hewitt’s Student Council President and lastly, I aspire to be a Tri-County Health Care Employee.

I am fortunate to be one of the few seniors who already have a career path chosen, or so I thought. Have you ever made a decision or a goal for far off into the future? But, then maybe as the future becomes closer and closer to reality you’re not so sure anymore? And, you have to ask yourself “Is this really what I want or is this what I’ve been telling myself for the last five years?” You see, I made the decision to be a Physical Therapist so long ago that I wasn’t sure if I had just overlooked everything else because “my mind was made up”. This is exactly when I found the High School Summer Internship program at Tri-County.

2015 HS Summer Interns (Taylor is center, front row)

2015 HS Summer Interns (Taylor is center, front row)

The Summer Internship program is a two-month shadowing position where I was able to observe each of 13 different medical positions over the course of seven weeks. It was a blast! I got to see everything from stitches in a rural clinic to chemotherapy treatments on the main campus in Wadena. Then, the day came where I got to shadow the Rehab Department staff. I liked it so much they let me come back… TWICE! They had so much for me to learn and gave the best advice. This internship put my mind at ease and validated that yes; I indeed want to be a Physical Therapist.

I believe it was through these last seven weeks that I realized I wear a lot of different hats. I wear the hat of a daughter, a teammate, a captain, a leader and one day I plan to wear the hat of Taylor Shamp, Physical Therapist; where I can serve our community wearing the hat of a Tri-County Health Care Employee.

Taylor with her parents, and brother Cody

Taylor with her parents, and brother Cody.

TODAY! May 6th is Wishbone Day – Osteogenesis Imperfecta Awareness

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Today’s post comes from a passionate area mother who grew up in Bertha and was one of our grand prize winners of our Moment’s Matter contest in January for a photo and story that she submitted of her son Easton. He now benefits from our new offering of Aquatic Therapy twice a week. Read her story below….

By: Chelsey Braaten

I want to introduce you to a disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, otherwise known as Brittle Bone Disease. I had never may6thheard of this disease until almost three years ago, and now it is my life. I was at my routine twenty week gestation ultrasound when the medical staff discovered my baby had shortened and bowed femurs, I was then sent on to a level three ultrasound in St. Cloud with a Perinatologist, someone who specializes in babies in utero. The physician discovered my baby had a skeletal dysplasia, although what type was still undetermined. We were followed closely throughout my pregnancy and at 36 weeks, I was transferred to the Twin Cities to await my baby’s arrival.

IMG_7918At 37 ½ weeks I gave birth at Abbott Northwestern to a beautiful baby boy, Easton Bradley Braaten who weighed 6 lbs. 9oz. and was 17in. in length. He had many medical concerns, but I was so relieved to see my beautiful baby breathing and alive. He was born with a high femur fracture and at eight weeks, he endured another femur fracture that helped determine his diagnosis of Osteogenesis Imperfecta Type 3. Type 3 is the most severe among children who survive the neonatal period.

Some characteristics of this disease are blue scalara (where the whites of the eyes are blue in tint), shortened and bowed limbs, short in stature and frequent fractures. Since his birth, Easton has had multiple surgeries, a port-a-cath placement for his infusions (a drug called pamidronate that is infused every 12 weeks to strengthen the bone as it grows), ear tubes (twice), teeth capped (twice), inguinal hernia repair, undesended testicle as well as two sedated tests.

In our future, we know that Easton will have future rodding surgery where they will straighten his femurs and tibias and place them on telescoping rods to straighten them to have maximum functionality. Aside from all of the medical terms and conditions, Easton is a fun-loving, spontaneous, energetic and funny little three-year-old boy who portrays bravery and strength. Easton may have an awful disease that will affect him the rest of his life, but we will not let this disease control him. We strive to give him the most normal life as possible by letting him do what any other three-year-old boy would want to do, besides the fact of telling him to be careful at least 100 times a day!

Our life is crazy busy with doctor appointments, follow-ups, surgeries, and therapies, but I would not change anything for the world. Easton has blessed us in a way I cannot explain. He has taught so many people so much about life and how we are not in control. We try to take things in stride and accomplish things day by day. Easton is truly a walking little miracle that fills our life with laughter, joy, and may times tears.

May 6th is a BIG day for our family that includes a lot of YELLOW. May 6th is National O.I. Awareness Day and we encourage everyone that supports, loves or even admires Easton, and all the children living with his disease, to wear yellow and spread awareness. I am always in awe at how much yellow and how much love and support we have gained in just three short years. Through this life experience, I have learned that no child was handpicked or chosen with what he or she has been dealt with in life. When you see someone with a disability, send a smile and know they are someone’s miracle and blessing! I hope you will join our family in making May 6th a memorable day and wear YELLOW to advocate for awareness for children like Easton with Osteogenesis Imperfecta.

Chelsey's family

Chelsey’s family

Aquatic Therapy

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By: Lora Foust, Occupational Therapist

Lora Foust, OT

Lora Foust, OT

I am an occupational therapist who works with people of all ages to become more independent in daily tasks. Do you know what a privilege we have to do aquatic therapy? I challenge you to research aquatic therapy and sensory integration or autism spectrum disorder, stroke or cerebral palsy, arthritis or fibromyalgia, among others. Water is comforting and relaxing. It was the first medium our bodies knew in the womb. Its buoyancy decreases weight and stress on the joints. The hydrostatic pressure reduces swelling and offsets blood pooling. Its viscosity allows therapists to increase or decrease how hard the person trains and increases body awareness. The therapist can use flow or drag to make the therapy fit the person’s needs. I witnessed aquatic therapy in Germany years ago. In one setting it was used to bring back movement in limbs that were affected by a stroke. Another client had lost a limb in an accident and was learning his new center of gravity with the support and safety of the water. A child with special needs was learning to walk. In Mercy-North Iowa in Mason City, a therapist friend of mine led a group called “Rusty Hinges”. People with arthritis learned to move without pain. Aquatic therapy is not for every patient or every condition we treat, but it is a wonderful tool to use with some. I can hardly wait to get started!

Aquatic Therapy

Aquatic Therapy

Stacey Sellner, PT, speaks about the benefits of Aquatic Therapy next to the warm water therapy pool at the Maslowski Wellness & Research Center: