Innovative approaches to therapy during lockdown

QEF’s Neuro Rehabilitation Service provides expert care and rehabilitation for people with an acquired brain injury, neurological illness, stroke or incomplete spinal injury. The multi-disciplinary team works together to provide people with the best chance of regaining key skills and maximising their independence.

COVID-19 has presented many challenges to the care sector and QEF’s clients were isolated from friends and family from 17th March for their own safety.  The team were keen to respond to the challenges of lockdown by looking for innovative ways to motivate clients who cannot see their families.  With the move to QEF’s new Care and Rehabilitation Centre delayed until lockdown eased, the team came up with the challenge of a virtual walk covering the route between the two locations. 

Carol Carr, Head of Therapies, explains:
“Our virtual walk challenge started on 18th May with a large progress chart outside the physio gym. The chart mapped the route from our current home in Banstead to our new home just outside Leatherhead - a distance of 11.8 miles which we worked out is 18,990 metres.  We mapped this onto the wall chart, adding visuals of landmarks at key stages along the route. Clients helped to create these visuals with our art co-ordinator and therapy support worker, whether as printed pictures, paintings, or drawings.

Our client group includes people with incomplete spinal injuries, neurological illnesses such as Guillain Barrie Syndrome, stroke, acquired brain injuries and encephalitis. We made the challenge as inclusive as possible, so everyone could take part if they choose to. People could complete metres on the therabike using their legs or arms, or on a standing frame with each minute standing equating to a metre distance. Others worked towards distance targets by taking steps, walking a small number of metres with harness support, or sit to stand exercises.

We wanted to provide a focus during lockdown; providing motivation to increase their tolerance for exercise, as well as improve stamina, strength, and fitness. We planned for the challenge to take about 4 weeks, with people contributing to the distance as part of their therapy sessions. Clients had charts in their therapy files to record their contribution in metres, which were then signed off by a member of the therapy team and added to the shared progress chart.

Those that were able to could also do additional practice around the centre, either independently or with support from staff. It gave people a reason to come out of their rooms and a motivation to walk more.  As people were due for discharge, new clients joined and we used the challenge to motivate them with their rehabilitation too, helping us all to complete the target distance. 

Generally, staff morale has remained high, but this gave everyone something new to focus on and a reason to come together, which was an added benefit. The achievements on the wall chart are a lovely way to reflect all the hard work that clients and staff have put in and the fun that we all had.

Challenge completed!