Saskatoon – As a physiotherapist at Saskatoon City Hospital's Rehabilitation Day Services (RDS), Michelle Riendeau saw the frustration of her mobility-limited clients as they struggled to recover from neurological conditions, spinal cord injury, acquired brain injury or multiple sclerosis. After completing the eight week program with her or her colleagues, some clients still needed extra help. They needed a facility or program where they could continue to exercise.
"The rehabilitation outpatient program on average, is eight weeks long, says Riendeau. "Outside of the hospital there isn't necessarily easy access to gym facilities, with the specialized equipment and the supports these clients need to continue recovering. Also, some clients don't have the resources to access private therapy or ongoing treatment. We knew there had to be a way to create this important next step in our clients' journey to independence."
Riendeau and her colleagues proposed a 10-client pilot program in a community facility to demonstrate the benefits of extended exercise with access to the equipment and the support they require.
"Being able to offer the Next Step pilot program at the YWCA Saskatoon is going to help them maintain and possibly even improve what they gain in the outpatient program," says Riendeau.
Public and private sectors came together to introduce the pilot program. Saskatoon Health Region partnered with URO Medical Supplies and Dr. Lynda Haverstock with RMD Engineering to get financial support from the business community for the wheelchair-accessible equipment needed to begin the initiative. Dr. Haverstock also worked with the YWCA on the space needed to locate the pilot program.
"Our company is a believer in active living and knows its importance in keeping a person healthy," says Peter Andrews, co-owner URO Medical Supplies. "When I heard about this idea I jumped at the opportunity to help."
The pilot program began in January. Participants have access to state of the art equipment such as a Functional Electrical Stimulation Cycle under the supervision of RDS physiotherapists and a URO Medical Supplies exercise therapist. The pilot will wrap up at the end of June and early indications are the program has proven very effective.
Over the summer months, the data will be analyzed and discussions will continue to determine the possibility of making the service permanent.