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EKU Senior from Whitesburg Uses Specialized Equipment for Clinical Lab Rotations

EKU Senior from Whitesburg Uses Specialized Equipment for Clinical Lab Rotations

Unable to stand, Eastern Kentucky University senior Jason Gibson faced a problem when the time came for clinical lab rotations and working with tall laboratory equipment.  Working together with his vocational rehab technician, the EKU Disabilities Office, the EKU Medical Laboratory Science clinical director and his site supervisor, Gibson found a solution.

Using a unique wheelchair that elevates him to a standing height, Gibson is now able to fulfill his clinical work in the St. Joseph Mount Sterling clinical lab, performing patient tests, quality control tests, recording data and other technical jobs, working four days a week for nearly nine hours each day. “I’m getting trained to do what other techs do,” Gibson said.

In 2001, 10-year-old Gibson was involved in a car accident, breaking two vertebrae and rupturing his appendix.  The accident led to an 11-day coma, two months in a University of Kentucky hospital bed, then a two-month rehabilitation at Cardinal Hill. After his discharge from Cardinal Hill, Gibson still attended therapy in his hometown, Whitesburg, for years.

As Gibson prepared for his clinical work, he contacted Teresa Belluscio, director of EKU’s Disabilities Office, to discuss the technical aspects of the clinical work and possible solutions that would provide him complete access to the lab machinery. Belluscio contacted his vocational rehabilitation counselor and proposed a meeting with the vocational rehabilitation technician. The technician began the pursuit of a standing chair. Measurements were taken, the lab was examined and the elevated chair was recommended.

“Jason has worked very hard in his program to get the clinical rotation,” Belluscio said. “He is not alone in his use of a specialized chair, but they are pretty unique. The chair is not specially designed for him, but there are not many variations of such chairs. The wheelchair provides access to places that cannot be reached from a standard wheelchair and also provides the user with better blood circulation, organ functioning and muscle tone.”

Gibson’s vocational rehabilitation service began renting the elevating chair for his clinical rotations. “When I get a more permanent position,” Gibson said, “they will buy one, but for now, they are just renting it.”

During his time as a student, “from my professors to the Office of Services for Individuals with Disabilities, EKU has helped me a lot,” Gibson added. My professors have given me the knowledge I need to succeed in this field, and they have helped me understand things I did not get in class during their office hours. The Disabilities Office has done a lot for me by allowing me to access notes and extended time on tests if needed, and they also helped get the chair I’m using through vocational rehab.”

After finishing his rotations, Gibson will graduate in December and plans to begin a career near
Richmond, Mount Sterling or Whitesburg. “I’m looking forward to finishing and getting paid to do what I love to do,” Gibson said.

“I have been giving it my best ever since [the accident], and I have a lot to show for it. I am proud of what I’ve accomplished. It is amazing, knowing where I am when you look at where I have been.”

Published on September 24, 2012

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