A smiling nurse with a face mask helps an older woman to walk around the nursing home with a walker.

The story is all too familiar: A frail, older person goes from living just fine to taking a fall, breaking a hip, having surgery, failing to recover, and declining in health. Jenna Ott, DPT, entered the field of geriatrics because of that very experience with her own grandmother, who had been living with Parkinson’s disease. She holds a doctorate in physical therapy from St. Francis University and specializes in orthopaedic, geriatric, post-operative/post-injury physical therapy, and sports rehabilitation.

Jenna Ott, DPT, facility director and physical therapist, UPMC Rehabilitation Institute outpatient rehabilitation in Verona

As the facility director and a physical therapist at the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute outpatient rehabilitation location in Verona, Ott is expanding the team at this location to accommodate more patients who need physical therapy and rehab services. We caught up with her to ask about the services provided at the Verona location and her eagerness to keep her older adult patients upright and moving.

Q: How Would You Describe the Verona Facility?

A: The outpatient rehabilitation facility in Verona is a thriving location. It is easily accessible with ample parking. Oakmont and Verona have high geriatric populations in part because of several senior living centers in our communities. We treat patients of all ages, illnesses, and disorders. Many of our patients have had joint replacement surgery and come to us for rehabilitation. We also see a lot of patients with pain, walking issues, and balance disorders.

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Q: What Do You Work on Most with Patients?

A: With our older patients, we commonly work on fall prevention. We work closely with local doctors and communicate with them frequently. As a result, doctors know how their patients are progressing and the patients are better informed about their care.

Q: Why Is Fall Prevention Important?

A: This topic hits home for me because of what my grandma experienced. We’re hoping to prevent that for families. We try to increase our patients’ strength and balance, so they don’t fall and end up in the hospital needing surgery. Gait is a fairly accurate predictor of longevity. If we can keep people walking steadily and prevent falling, we can help them maintain their quality of life.

Q: What’s the Impact of Care Closer to Home?

A: A location close to home helps people to be more compliant with their doctor’s physical therapy orders. As the patients get to know and trust us, they refer their family, neighbors, and friends. They know we will take good care of them. The neighborhoods of Oakmont and Verona are close-knit, and my patients really get to know me well.

Our location is easily accessible by public transportation or ACCESS.

Q: What Are Some Misconceptions About Physical Therapy?

A: Many people feel that you need to come to therapy a certain number of visits per week, over a particular length of time. Also, they are hesitant to try physical therapy because they think they will become just a number. At the Verona location, we tailor each patients’ treatment to their needs and goals and work with them one-on-one. Each time a patient checks in, we can provide new exercises and a more personal approach.

As a smaller facility, we offer a comfortable and stress-free atmosphere for geriatric patients to receive therapy. We have one gym and five treatment rooms, so we’re able to offer privacy and safety from COVID-19.

And patients can make an appointment to see me without a doctor’s referral.

To see the full range of services UPMC offers in the Allegheny-Kiski Valley region, visit our website. To make an appointment for physical therapy at any of our 60 UPMC Rehabilitation Institute outpatient rehabilitation locations, contact us.

About UPMC Rehabilitation Institute

The UPMC Rehabilitation Institute offers inpatient, outpatient, and transitional rehabilitation, as well as outpatient physician services so that care is available to meet the needs of our patients at each phase of the recovery process. Renowned physiatrists from the University of Pittsburgh Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, as well as highly trained physical, occupational, and speech therapists, provide individualized care in 12 inpatient units within acute care hospitals and over 80 outpatient locations close to home and work.