Where Are They Now: Max Manson, MS ‘19
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Where Are They Now: Max Manson, MS ‘19

When Max Manson, MS ‘19, was a youngster, he had a family member who had macular degeneration, an age-related disease that affects a person’s central vision. But all Manson knew about his relative’s condition was that she had books on tape that she enjoyed.

Max Manson

He learned more about the condition while pursuing a degree in Kinesiology at the University of Maryland. Things started to come together for him when he was doing a paper on focal hand dystonia, a disabling movement disorder that leads to impaired hand use, commonly found in musicians.

“Part of this paper was about that, but it led into sensory rehabilitation as far as learning braille to try and alleviate the symptoms of this condition in the fingers,” said Manson.

And that’s how he eventually became a blind rehabilitation outpatient specialist (BROS) who works with veterans.

Originally from the Annapolis, Maryland, area, Manson graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology in 2019. He then enrolled at Salus University and earned a master’s in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT).

While at Salus, Manson was in the online Blindness and Low Vision Studies (BLVS) programs, which met on-campus for two weeks during the summer months. “I was used to going to in-person learning, but the Salus program was unique and I think it did a good job with the virtual learning and testing your knowledge,” he said. “Coming on-site was the best experience because you get to meet all your professors. I also got to work with other people in the same program and put what I had been learning to practical use, actually getting your hands on things.”

He eventually took an internship at the Eastern Blind Rehabilitation Center in West Haven, Connecticut, where he also completed his independent living skills training. “I decided I wanted to incorporate a certification in Low Vision Rehabilitation that way I could incorporate both the non-visual skills and visual skills with the training. I thought it would be best to have those two backgrounds for what I wanted to do with veterans,” said Manson.

Although COVID cut short his internship, Manson then worked for the next two years at the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired as a rehabilitation teacher, where he had a caseload of 40 to 50 clients with whom he worked within their homes. 

Manson returned to the Philadelphia area to again work with veterans for a short time, then just recently took a job as a BROS with the VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System.

“I was originally hired as a Low Vision Therapist at the VA Philadelphia Healthcare System, so the things I was working on with veterans were primarily low vision skills. But I have the background of the non-visual skills and working with people in their homes,” said Manson. “For me, I think it’s beneficial for veterans to get that training in the home because we can address many of their needs and goals.”

Moving to Massachusetts also gets him closer to family. Although he and his siblings grew up in Maryland, two of his sisters went to school and then put down roots in Massachusetts.

When he’s not working, Manson enjoys spending time with his family and friends. He also has a three-year-old French bulldog named Lenny that keeps him occupied.

“I’m doing what I want to do, and that is working with veterans,” he said.