When Tyson Kane visits with elders at SunPorch of Dodge City, he is always thinking about what he and his team can to do enhance their quality of life.

Kane, certified occupational therapy assistant, is the new director of rehabilitation at SunPorch. He and four other professionals offer physical, occupational and speech therapies in-house on a contract basis.

"In all circumstances, our goal is to help elders reach their highest level of function," said Kane. "If we notice difficulties related to stamina, strength and/or balance, we might suggest a 30-day regimen of therapy."

A therapist or nurse may be the first "to notice when someone is starting to decline physically," Kane said. "Or there could be a report about pain. Instead of medications, we try therapy first."

After therapy, the restorative nursing program might be next. This supplements the therapy regimen and supports people as they get back to their day-to-day activities.

Depending on an individual’s needs, Kane helps determine the best therapies to allow a journey to maximum potential.

"In some cases, this may involve an elder walking without a cane," he said. "But in others, we might help someone whose goal is to get out of bed and go to the restroom with limited assistance. We will do whatever is possible in any situation."

Elders at SunPorch have the right to decline therapy services, Kane commented.

"However, we can change our approach sometimes. If someone doesn’t want to do exercises in the therapy room, we might suggest gardening or helping out in the kitchen. We can supply options."

In a majority of cases, elders are glad they participated in therapy and often say they even had some fun along the way, Kane added.

"We love to hear feedback," he said. "It could be that the pain has been alleviated or overcome. And it is great to learn the elder feels better overall and is more comfortable performing daily activities."

Because Kane and his team treat elders at SunPorch, 501 W. Beeson Rd., everyone has the opportunity to receive therapy, regardless of the ability to travel.

"The fringe benefit is that therapy is offered in our homey environment," Kane said. "This is testament to SunPorch and its philosophy of the elder comes first. Staff members here demonstrate this philosophy every day in all they do. We all work as a team."

Kane was born in Garden City and is a 2006 graduate of Scott City High School. He served nine years in the U.S. Army and earned his occupational therapy assistant degree at Brown Mackie College in Salina.

Ryan Salinas, SunPorch of Dodge City administrator, said Kane "has a great rapport with our elders. They really enjoy the time they spend with him. Tyson is easy to work with and brings a wealth of knowledge to our therapy department. He is an invaluable member of our team."