Cara Lee, Physiotherapist at CBI Health in Alberta, shares both the challenges and rewards of working as part of an interdisciplinary team with clients experiencing chronic pain.


What is your role and how do you work with clients?

I'm a Physiotherapist at one of CBI Health's chronic pain management (complex care) clinics. The clients I work with are often downtrodden due to an inability to function due to pain -- they are truly in despair. This mentality can make their treatments harder, both emotionally and physically, for them. What makes a lasting impression on me is seeing them overcome the roadblocks.

After a thorough initial assessment, much of my treatment is education, helping them understand their pain, and learn to manage their life independently.

In my role, I also have the opportunity to be a clinical mentor, working with newer team members to understand the interdisciplinary approach we take to understanding and treating clients with chronic pain. The mental health component is vital when treating injured workers. These are a group of people who benefit from a bio-psycho-social model of service delivery. I help clinicians navigate how to embrace this approach to optimize client recovery.


Why would a new grad want to be part of CBI Health?

The team environment here is like nothing I've ever seen before. It's incredibly supportive and offers a genuine opportunity for collaboration. As part of this expansive organization, I trust that if I wanted to return to a sports medicine or acute care environment, I could transfer to our other clinic in Red Deer, Alberta. If I needed to relocate for family reasons, CBI Health has clinics in cities and more towns in every province. There are very few other companies in our field that can offer this level of security and flexibility.



Have you always worked with chronic pain clients or have you worked with clients experiencing other types of injuries?

I have experience in acute rehabilitation of spinal cord, brain injury, stroke and amputees, then as sole charge in a rural hospital. I also worked a few years in a sports medicine clinic before coming to CBI Health. Our clinic was 5 people when I started at CBI Health, so I treated all streams (acute and more complex); I have had the opportunity to forge my trail in the area I have found most rewarding. As we have grown to a clinic of 30 there are a number of different physio paths I could have taken.

I feel CBI Health has provided me with amazing exposure to different client populations, different funders, and different teams (at my request). I have worked in 11 different CBI Health clinics, in 3 provinces and 7 cities, and I’m heading to city number 12 soon. I have literally been from coast to coast of this great country with CBI Health.


Can you tell me about a time when you made a significant impact on a client's life?

I feel in this stream of service, almost every success has a significant impact on the client’s life; not simply helping the recovery from a few weeks being down and out from a new injury. Many come to mind, but I’ll share one in particular.

A client came in with severe headaches, not sleeping, etc. He held 2 red bulls in his hands on his first visit. He had been off work for years. He spent nearly a month failing, then slowly started to turn around. Ultimately, he made a complete 360˚ with his life. He enrolled in school independently, changed careers and life with his family returned to normal. This gentleman returned many times to the clinic after he returned to work to share his success, he joined celebrations at the clinic, he arranged water balloon fights with staff, he wrote a letter to our clinic manager.


What motivates and drives your work?

Memories like the above are why I come to work every day. Our clinic has a testimonial wall created by our clients. It's an inspiration to us as practitioners and offers hope to others. It's been twenty years since I joined CBI Health and I continue to wake up energized by the prospect of how I can help my clients.

In addition to helping my clients, I love to see my, now often, younger co-workers grow, and feel truly fulfilled as we see their clients succeed as well.

If you want to expand your hands-on skills, grow into a leader, and work collaboratively to make a tangible impact on members of your community - this is a place you will thrive. If you want to be an influential voice in an industry that helps and heals, join us. We're hiring in clinics across Canada. Click here to learn more.