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Volunteer offers experience, time to OT program

Stephanie Haugen

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Robert Bond became personally acquainted with occupational and physical therapy on March 1, 2000, when he had a stroke at the age of 56.

Bond, active and athletic his whole life, had to adopt a new lifestyle after undergoing extreme physical changes. Because of his positive attitude, strong mentality and outlook on life, he was able to take his struggles and transform them into valued life lessons not only for himself, but for others as well.

He now guest lectures in the College of Health Profession’s classes, volunteers as a subject for students to practice their techniques and is a retired member of Pacific’s School of Occupational Therapy Advisory Board.

Bond’s relationship with Pacific began when Occupational Therapy professor Sandra Rogers volunteered to be a guest speaker for the stroke recovery support group at Portland’s Good Samaritan Legacy Hospital. Bond later became a subject for a physical therapy student’s senior thesis on the study of walking. He went to the final presentation, attended graduation and went to the after-party, where he struck up relationships with those in the department.

He began visiting the occupational and physical therapy classrooms regularly when they were still in Forest Grove. As he continued his steady involvement with Pacific, he used his first-hand knowledge of recovery along with his life experiences to teach students.

Bond grew up in Michigan with his family. He earned his English degree from the University of Michigan where he was on the golf and swimming teams, and his post-graduate degree in business from the Chicago International School of Accounting.

After college, Bond was drafted by the US Government and spent 1967-1969 in Germany training officers to go to Vietnam.

When he returned to the United States, he started his successful career as a turnaround specialist, helping struggling small businesses become profitable again.

Bond describes himself as competitive. “I always worked for that corner office,” he said.

He liked being the boss. He ran things in a way he thought was necessary to pull the company out of its hardship and was almost always successful throughout his career.

The skills he acquired turning a struggle into a profitable situation proved to be paramount in his recovery process.

Following his stroke, Bond spent the next seven months at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, three months in in-patient care and four months in out-patient care. His left side was severely impaired. Bond worked with physical and occupational therapists eight to nine hours per day, five to six days per week. He recalls a time when he spent hours sweating and lying on a mat just trying to move his left leg.

Bond believes the psychological aspect of healing is just as significant as the physical. “This is like climbing a mountain, Bob, not every step is going to be up,” one of Bond’s therapists once told him. This is one of the messages he tries to relay when he speaks to students and those struggling with new physical ailments.

According to Bond, “Recovery is not a physical battle, it’s an emotional battle.”

Occupational Therapy students learn how to treat peoples’ emotional issues when they are treating their physical ailments.

Occupational therapists assist those who have suffered from injury, trauma or illness, and use daily activities as therapy. “All activities of everyday life are important to OTs,” said Pacific’s Occupational Therapy Program Director and professor John White. “We help people do activities they need to do, want to do and have to do.”

Occupational therapy focuses on “the enjoyment you get from doing things that have meaning to you,” said White. “People get better and stay healthy by staying engaged in life.”

What started out as a mission to move his left leg, became a mission to walk again. Impressing the specialists with his recovery and new found ability to walk, Bond decided to go back to work. After some time back on the job, he decided to retire. He couldn’t do the work anymore, he explained.

The ice, snow and below zero temperatures consistent with Chicago winters proved difficult for Bond and soon he and his wife started to look at retirement options. The Bonds decided to relocate to Portland to be with their son and their new grandchild.

The transition to Oregon was a fairly smooth one.

According to Bond, most people would see a stroke as a strictly bad thing. He realizes, however, without his stroke he might have worked another 10 years. If Bond were physically able to continue his career he would have missed out spending time with his family and helping others through their recovery process.

As one of the original advisory board members, he helped write the School of Occupational Therapy’s mission statement, which reflects what he believes therapy is all about. The goal is to “Provide an exceptional educational environment, Academic credentials second to none, Cadres of the best professional education and administration available, Insight into the ever changing requirements of professional education, Facilities with resources to service the needs of the program, Interactive involvement with the local professional and international communities, and Career opportunities for our graduates.”

Today, Bond walks with a cane, has movement in his left arm but no feeling, and cannot see out of his left eye as lingering results of his stroke. However, he regularly goes fishing and golfing with his son and can still swim. He loves it in Portland because it’s close to the mountains, the coast and his grandchildren.

Bond doesn’t drive anymore, so he takes public transportation out to the Health Professions Campus.

Sometimes when he is in Creighton Hall, he’ll sit at the coffee shop and wait for Pacific faculty and students to stop by and chat. He’s gotten to know a lot of people though his involvement with Pacific’s health professions programs and values his relationship with the university.

Bond summed it all up when he said that all he ever really wanted to do was help people succeed. He never stopped doing that.

After years of helping people with their struggling companies, he used his own hardships to switch his focus to Pacific students, faculty and future recipients of healthcare.

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Volunteer offers experience, time to OT program