Fort Myers occupational therapy
Christopher Pomazanko is a COTA/L who has been with the occupational therapy team at FOCUS since 2019.
He was always drawn to the medical field. After graduating from Michigan State University in 2005, he was initially slated to study diagnostic medical sonography at Keiser University. He switched majors, though, after striking up a conversation with the head of the Occupational Therapy Department.
“After an hour of talking, we both decided my personality was more suited for being an occupational therapist,” he says.
He earned his associate’s degree as an occupational therapy assistant in 2017. He has experience in geriatrics as well as pediatrics.
“In pediatrics, I enjoy seeing children with autism who had difficulty with social engagement come out of their shell and start to play and really engage with their peers,” he says. “I like the fact that kids don’t really know they’re receiving therapy. They think they’re here to play! I get to tell my friends and family that I get to play with Legos, build obstacle courses and color all day at work.”
Chris grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, 30 minutes north of the city, on 11 acres of land with a pond, pool, and barn. He speaks both English and Polish, and has a small, close family that carries on the Polish traditions of his grandparents, who immigrated from the Central European country. Here in Southwest Florida, he enjoys warm weather, beaches, and the fact that he doesn’t have to defrost his car windows each morning.
“I shovel sunshine, not snow, and I love the way sunscreen smells in January!”
At FOCUS, he’s found a tight-knit, family-like environment. Working with therapists of all disciplines, he says, has been a true asset in achieving success and helping kids meet their goals.
Although the goals and strategies to reach them vary from child to child, Chris aims to make every session fun.
“I also never take myself too seriously – because kids won’t, and they will humble you rather quickly,” he joked. “I will always treat the individual, not the diagnosis. I plan my sessions in a way that makes kids want to return. This is a fun destination where they get to play everyday – not a chore.”
COTA/L, Lead OT/PT
A native of Okeechobee, FL, she earned her associate degree from Keiser University before joining the FOCUS Therapy in May 2018.
She was first drawn to the field of occupational therapy after needing it herself following traumatic injuries sustained in a high school car accident.
“I went through therapy and realized that I also wanted to help others live their lives to the fullest,” Lemley said. “I wanted to give others the chance to engage in activities that brought them not only independence, but joy. Being an occupational therapy practitioner has given me all that and more.”
She’s treated patients of all ages with unique disabilities using creative, modified and adaptive interventions.
“I love being in a profession where the main focus is holistic treatment for patients and their families.”
She began her career in a skilled nursing facility, caring primarily for elderly and other vulnerable populations. With children, though, she revels in the opportunity to see each child light up, grow, excel, advance. Facilitating progress with the potential to positively impact each patient’s future. She’s trained in Handwriting Without Tears, Zones of Regulation, and Primitive Reflex Integration.
At FOCUS, Crystal has found a unique work environment with other therapists who welcome an interdisciplinary, creativity-oriented approach. She’s treated children with a broad range of conditions, including:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Down Syndrome
- Developmental Delay
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Cerebral Palsy
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Sensory Processing Disorder
She’s working toward obtaining additional certification in the Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration Program (which will make her a Certified Primitive Reflex Clinical Specialist, or CPRCS). This, she notes, is in response to an influx in cases involving children with retained reflexes impacting the nervous systems, food aversions, visual deficits, developmental skills, and behaviors. Her coursework focuses on integration of primitive reflexes through play, yoga, movement and other fun activities.
“The best feeling is seeing a child light up, with a big grin on their face, shouting, ‘I did it!’ after completing a challenging task,” Crystal says. “I love to celebrate all their accomplishments and moments of success.”
When she’s not treating patients at FOCUS, Crystal enjoys exploring new places and taking road trips with her husband, enjoying the outdoors, working out or practicing yoga, cooking healthy meals, playing with her dogs Ollie & Otis and catching brilliant Florida sunsets.
Erin Franke is an Occupational Therapist, Registered, Licensed, with a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from Florida Gulf Coast University. Her undergraduate degree is from Xavier University, a Bachelor in Liberal Arts with a Human Occupation Concentration she earned in 2016. Erin is additionally trained as a Registered Behavioral Technician (RBT). Erin has found implementing established and effective tenants of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) in occupational therapy sessions with children diagnosed with conditions like autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Down syndrome allows for more effective carry-over/generalization of skills. She is also qualified to administer the ADOS-2 testing as well as the Sequential-Oral-sensory Approach (SOS) feeding therapy. She believes fully in FOCUS’ founding principles of intradisciplinary services to more effectively treat the “whole child.”
Inspiration for Erin’s career choice in occupational therapy came in high school. At the time, she was one of the few caregivers trusted to babysit by parents of a child with autism in her northern Kentucky hometown. When her brother was diagnosed as developmentally delayed stemming from early onset chronic illness, their mother took him for treatment with an occupational therapist. On the way home that first day, Erin’s mother called to tell her, “I found the career you need to be in.”
Turns out, Mom was right. Erin especially appreciated the occupational therapist’s holistic approach to pediatric care, with a strong emphasis on play and tailoring each session to her brother’s individual interests. She began sitting in on sessions to observe, inquire and soak in as much knowledge as she could. Meanwhile, she had front row seats to her brother’s milestones big and small. She soon began volunteering and ultimately left her family’s large farm (where they raised cows, horses, cats and dogs), crossed the Ohio River to pursue an undergraduate degree (and volunteer with the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati). She later ventured to the sunny shores of Southwest Florida for her master’s degree.
FOCUS is her first full-time job as a registered, licensed occupational therapist. Experienced in treating both adults and children (the latter in a school system, in-patient and out-patient rehabilitation and in a youth outreach center with a prime focus in mental health), Erin is still drawn to younger patients.
“I love kids’ energy and the opportunity to see them grow into their skills and find their place in the world.”
FOCUS’ strong emphasis on play, interdisciplinary services and holistic treatment approach, she says, make patients feel at-home – ultimately resulting in therapy that’s more effective.
“Children learn so much from these experiences that they don’t even realize it’s work,” Franke said. “My philosophy is to provide every child with the care, support and love my brother received during his therapy so that every child and family I work with never feels alone – and will hopefully experience the progress and growth my brother was able to achieve.”