How LifeScape physical therapist Pam Dahm fell in love with her career
I got to know Children’s Care Hospital & School when I began as a volunteer for the classrooms and residential unit in 1990. I was attending Augustana College and was investigating potential careers. I was immediately captivated by the inspiring people—both children and staff—that I met through volunteering. Eventually, I began to work evenings and weekends on the residential units and found the work to be incredibly challenging, but also extremely rewarding. During my early work and volunteer time, I observed in the PT department and clearly remember Annette’s playful cheerfulness and the deep wisdom of Rozanne, Anne, and David in caring for and providing PT exercises for the students they worked with. My path toward a career in physical therapy had begun.
I started my work at Children’s Care, now LifeScape, immediately upon graduating from the University of South Dakota physical therapy program 23 years ago. I really do feel like I grew up at Children’s Care! Along the way, many, many things about Children’s Care have changed, including the name and the scope of people we serve, however, I have always found that the mission of empowering people with special needs and providing support for their families continues to be a guiding force for this organization and is also very near and dear to my heart.
My perspective as a physical therapist and an employee of LifeScape was changed in 2000 with the birth of my daughter Allison, who due to a complicated pregnancy, was born with cerebral palsy. Most parents can relate to the feeling of fear and helplessness when there is something you can’t fix or make better for your child. I remember feeling so grateful for the expertise of the LifeScape co-workers in my midst. People who cared about helping Allison communicate, sit, walk, learn, and succeed, nearly as much as we did. Allison had many health struggles in her life, which she faced with courage and smiles. She died, unexpectedly, when she was 9 years old. Still to this day, I cannot put words around how it felt to lose her. Immediately, our LifeScape family was there to provide support and sympathy. I feel so blessed to work and be friends with this close-knit group of people, who could, in some way, understand the amazing value of Allison’s life and empathize with the depth of our loss.
I am currently a physical therapist at the LifeScape Rehabilitation Center. I feel so lucky to work in a place that seeks to empower people by providing services that promote independence, success, and quality of life for the people and families we serve. I also enjoy that my job is a lot about helping kids to have fun and to be active. I get to play at work!! My interests as a physical therapist were guided by Allison’s needs, which did include wheelchairs, seating and mobility, and gait training. I became an Assistive Technology Professional and a Seating and Mobility Specialist to help me gain knowledge on the latest technology to help Allison and others achieve their greatest potential. Now I continue this work to honor her memory. The correctly prescribed and fitted seating and mobility system or gait training device can be so critical to maximizing a person’s quality of life, independence, and ability to succeed. In addition, assistive technology and correctly prescribed durable medical equipment are critical to supporting the caregiver’s ability to effectively support and meet the needs of a loved one.
I am a proud mom of Allison, Ellie (18 years) and Emma (14 years) and wife to Mark, who I recruited to work here as a Rehabilitation Technician (ha!). Of course I love spending time with my family. I enjoy scrapbooking, gardening, and searching for or working with junky antiques. I also love dogs (I have three), and our cat, Steve. I am thankful for my work at LifeScape and the opportunity to support others along the way with their journey related to gaining mobility skills and recovery of function in the wake of illness, injury, or congenital disability.
-Pam Dahm, MS.PT, ATP/SMS - Physical Therapist, Assistive Technology Professional,
Seating and Mobility Specialist, LifeScape
We thank Pam and all of our physical therapists and physical therapy aides during National Physical Therapy Month in October!