Back to health; back to work

Jericho mail carrier recovers from head-on crash

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By Kate Laddison
Tammy Laframboise

Tammy Laframboise

Tammy Laframboise delivers mail on a rural route in Jericho, a job she’s done for three decades and one she loves. When she was hit by another car head-on last fall, she feared the resulting injury would mean she’d have to give up her job, and maybe that she’d never drive without anxiety again. After work with Physical Therapist Lori Deering, Laframboise got back to work quicker than she thought possible, feeling stronger and more confident than she ever had.

“It’s been my godsend,” Laframboise said of the work rehabilitation program she participated in with Northwestern Occupational Health in St. Albans.

Laframboise was hit head-on by a car that she never saw coming as she delivered along her route. She broke her sternum, suffered neck and shoulder trauma as well as other cuts and bruises. She also developed a fear of driving, and found herself reacting badly to sudden stops and unexpected loud noises. For three months she didn’t even get into a car.

At Northwestern, she worked with a multidisciplinary team that included a physician, a physical therapist and a psychologist. Five days each week she spent four hours at the gym, working one-on-one with physical therapist Lori Deering on activities specifically designed to mimic her work activities: Lifting mail bins, twisting to pick up and place mail, reaching to sort envelopes, etc.

“It covers everything that I do at work,” she said as she worked with Deering in the gym to safely lift weighted bins from a low shelf to a higher one.

She started slowly, gradually working up to greater levels of strength and fitness. Meeting regularly with Deering kept Laframboise on track. “I don’t want to let her down,” she said with a smiling, Deering nearby, armed with a hand-held timer and a printout of Laframboise’s exercise circuit. “It keeps you motivated.”

She also likes that all the components of the program are in one site. She was able to see the doctor, do her exercise regimen in the first-floor gym, and meet with the therapist. The comprehensive approach has given Laframboise a different outlook on her wellness. Having suffered other accidents, and dealing with daily repetitive motions, she had become accustomed to regular aches and pains.

“I wondered if I had a choice,” she said. “Now I see that I do.”

After just six weeks in the program, Laframboise was ready to get back to work part time. She’s now back behind the wheel full time.

“It’s made my life so much happier, knowing that I wasn’t going to have to give up what I loved doing.”

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Kate Laddison is the community relations specialist at the Northwestern Occupational Health work rehabilitation program in St. Albans. More information is available by calling 802-524-1223.