Innovative brain-injury recovery program makes eclipse t-shirts

Where else but RCP’s West End Co-op can community members buy a patient-made total eclipse t-shirt that not only supports the rehab program, but allows buyers to individualize the shirts with their own eclipse-colored thumb print?

T-shirt designed by RCP patients.

The shirts, which feature a picture of South Carolina outlined in a fiery eclipse corona and the phrase “Where were you?,” will be made and sold today through next week at the downtown co-op. RCP’s West End Co-op is at 104 Augusta St, Greenville. Its hours of operation are 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., including during the eclipse day itself.

The cost of the shirt is $20, with proceeds going back into the innovative rehab program. The total time for making a screen-printed t-shirt, then customizing it with customer’s thumbprint to symbolize the total eclipse, is approximately one minute. The thumbprint will go where Greenville would fall on a map.

Patients and former patients will also be making “full-eclipse cookies,” also known as dark chocolate cookies. While the cookies are free, donations will be accepted.

The West End Co-op, a program of Greenville Health System’s Roger C. Peace Rehabilitation Hospital, is a one-of-a-kind community-based rehab employment model. The co-op provides a supportive yet creative environment in which individuals with brain injuries can participate in “work worth doing” in a real community setting. The co-op is an emerging small business integrative therapy model that can be used to integrate persons with brain injuries back into the workforce.

At the West End Co-op, participants perform real-life tasks to gain new skills, confidence and a sense of connectedness. Participants may work as an employee, volunteer or participate as an extension of their individual therapy.

The Co-op offers custom screen printing and embroidery, thousands of promotional items, handcrafted jewelry and same-day delivery of its signature giant Otis Spunkmeyer cookies.

The program, which started in 2002, has benefited more than 3,000 patients recovering from traumatic brain injuries or stroke in the past four years alone.

Patients love the real-world activities but also feeling like they’re giving back to the community. The Co-op is a great way for patients to work on functional exercises in a non-clinical setting. Here, patients help improve cognitive skills by following step-by-step directions to make the detailed projects and improve gross and fine-motor skills by the physical work involved. It’s still physical, occupational and speech therapy—it just doesn’t feel like it.

Patients are excited about making the shirts, but especially about the opportunity to individualize their own shirts with their inky thumbprints.

For more information about the West End Co-op, click here or visit the Facebook page.

Kimbo Bridges is supervisor of the West End Co-op, part of Prisma Health’ss Roger C. Peace Rehabilitation Hospital.

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