Updated: Oct 24, 2020
In my opinion, this is essential.
Working with the geriatric population, clients who have suffered a neurological injury (stroke, spinal cord injury etc) or clients who live with a chronic disease (Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's etc) there are certain tools that will make a difference.
I believe in functional training... okay what does that mean? We hear the word functional get tossed around all the time, but what does it mean? The easiest way to answer this question is by using an example. Let's say Cinderella suffered from a stroke, can no longer walk and now she is wheelchair bound. She has a weak left leg, almost unable to move it. Do you think it will get stronger by the therapist moving her leg for her, doing passive stretches? The answer is No. Let's try doing a #SitToStand exercise (basically a less intense version of a squat). Ideally, by going through the sit-to-stand motion with the assistance of her stronger, right leg, the left leg muscles will start to activate and with time gain strength
What happens though, if Cinderella is not strong enough to even begin the Sit-to-stand, due to weak core muscles and her strong side is not quite strong enough to take the full load? Do we just stop there? Do we just do as much as we can in the wheelchair and call it a day?
Sometimes there are people that get left out of rehab simply because there is no way to get from A to B. The reason for this post is to spread awareness about how a few pieces of equipment can help bridge that gap. Introducing ... the Sit-to-stand Trainer and the Bungee Mobility Trainer (See links below for more information).
I was fortunate enough to be exposed to these tools during the first 4 years of being a physiotherapist at #NeurogymRehabilitation in Ottawa (actually the owner of the clinic is also the founder of the equipment but now sold to Medline). Now that I am working in a retirement home, my goal is to get this equipment into the home. I honestly believe every retirement home/ long term care home/ hospital could benefit immensely from having these tools and a trained therapist to put them into use.
I want to give another example. I started working with a client about 2 months ago, lets call him Mickey. In June, Mickey was mobile with a walker, but one evening he tripped on a carpet and fell. He was sent to the hospital due to fractured ribs and torn rotator cuff. He ended up having an elongated hospital stay due to a few complications. By the time Mickey got out of hospital he was in a wheelchair and requiring a mechanical lift to transfer. Once you are using a mechanical lift, its pretty much down hill from there. Unfortunately, this is a very common story for the elderly and that's why #fallprevention is so important!
Anyways, after my initial evaluation and because I knew Mickey was strong before his fall, I thought he had potential. My first goal was to get him away from using the mechanical lift. Because I still don't have access to the equipment listed above at this retirement home (working on it), the next best thing is the EZ Turn Disc (link below). To my surprise, the retirement does not have this either, and it is up to the resident to purchase (or rent) this on their own. Fortunately, Mickey's caretaker was on board and she purchased one right away. The EZ turn disc is a tool that is the in-between of independent transfers and a mechanical lift. You can also use the EZ turn disc as a less ideal training tool if you don't have access to the #SitToStandTrainer. I spent almost the every session using the EZ Turn Disc with Mickey... we started small, working on core muscle and initiating the standing movement. Mickey started off only being able to do 1/4 squat using both hands and eventually now he is doing 10 repetitions full squats, no problem. After a lot of hard work, Mickey no longer uses the mechanical lift and is using the EZ turn disc for all transfers. This allows for more daily exercise (every time he transfers he gets a workout instead of being a passive blob hanging from a lift, sorry to be harsh but that's the reality). As well, this contributes to improved bowel and bladder control, circulation, opens up more opportunities like proper bathing, toileting etc etc the list goes on.
Short story long, the more independent someone is, the better the quality of life, the easier it is on the personal support workers and nurses and the less strain on the health care system as a whole.
I think that having the Sit-To-Stand Trainer and Bungee Mobility Trainer are quite essential for meaningful practice. If not these, then having access to an EZ Turn Disc at the very least. The EZ Turn Disc is not meant for training, but with some creativity it can fill the void but with less potential. I didn't spend time in this post describing the equipment in detail, but if you are interested in knowing more click the links below or message me!
This blog post is the first step towards taking action; getting this equipment into more facilities, starting with the retirement home that I am currently working at!
This was a long one, so thanks for listening!
Please note: I have no financial ties with Medline or Parson's ADL. I just love the stuff for the population I work with.