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Physical therapy student Chelsea Scheller

Student Chelsea Scheller works on the online physical therapy guide at her home.

Pandemic-inspired guide to physical therapy at home helpful any time

July 8, 2020 — 

A small team of faculty and students from the department of physical therapy in the College of Rehabilitation Sciences, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, has created a guide to help people find online resources to assist with their physical therapy needs at home.

“In recent months, people in need of specialized physical activity supports have had fewer opportunities to access programs and professional guidance,” said physical therapy assistant professor Dr. Patty Thille. “This will help people stay physically active at home, in ways that are sensitive to their health conditions.”

Thille started the initiative during Manitoba’s early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the resulting guide will continue to be helpful beyond the pandemic to anyone who is unable to visit a clinic or group exercise class regularly, including those in remote communities.

Resources and PT exercises in the guide are aimed at people with diverse conditions including arthritis, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, mental health, multiple sclerosis, one-sided hemiplegia, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease and respiratory conditions.

The guide also contains general resources for those new to exercise, older adults, those with mobility challenges and pregnant mothers.

The project team included instructor Maureen Walker and two physical therapy student volunteers, Laura Brinkman and Chelsea Scheller, who are in their first and second year, respectively of the master of physical therapy program. Each of the team members worked from their homes to develop the guide together.

“Because all the private practice and some public physio, including outpatient services in hospitals, were shut down, we wanted to target the clinical population out in community that may not have had access to the telehealth and the physiotherapy options available during the pandemic,” said Scheller. “But a lot of the resources are good resources for any time. It’s a good starting place and guideline for a lot of people to get physically active.”

Scheller volunteered for the initiative after the remainder of their school year was rescheduled during the pandemic. Normally she would have been in a work placement at this time.

“Due to the pandemic, our in-person assessments and exams were moved online, and our placements were delayed. I’m very passionate about physical therapy, so I decided to get involved in this,” said Scheller, who plans to pursue a second master’s degree in rehabilitation sciences in the fall.

The resources listed in the guide are either created by physical therapists, or recommended by them. All listings are free to access, including downloadable documents with guidance and online videos that are designed to be safe for users who benefit from specialized physical activity support.

The guide was launched June 22 during a Centre on Aging webinar. It was shared to clinicians and will be distributed by the Manitoba Physiotherapy Association (MPA). It can also be accessed through the UM physical therapy department.

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