Karine Lagace opened Neuro Physio to help the community and that is exactly what she will continue to do, albeit, a little further from her clients than she would prefer amidst the pandemic.
For a little more than a month, Lagace has been offering free physiotherapy appointments over the phone to not only her regular clientele but anyone seeking advice relating to her area of expertise. The goal is to help as many people reap the benefits of her practice as possible, she said, and to do her part in reducing strain on the emergency medical system during these trying times.
Under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, private practice, long-term care, retirement homes, and community care physiotherapists have been instructed to restrict services to urgent and virtual care. Urgent care is defined by the province as an assessment and therapeutic intervention or service for conditions or situations where a patient’s safety or quality of life would otherwise be at risk.
The final decision to what constitutes an emergency, however, rests in the hands of a physiotherapist or their employer, Lagace explained, who must independently assess whether the risk of not providing service outweighs that of exposure. But just because treatment may not be an emergency, doesn’t mean it isn’t critical to a patient's well-being.
Lagace opened her clinic in 2016 so that individuals in Sudbury who had experienced brain trauma, such as a stroke or were living with a neurological disorder such as Parkinson's, could access physiotherapy specific to them, she said. Since that time, it has expanded to welcome a team of physiotherapy professionals suited to meet a variety of needs.Over the years both Lagace and her staff have developed deep-rooted professional relationships with their clients, she explained, making the decision to close the practice in response to COVID-19 that much harder.
“We know them well. We’re invested. We care about how they’re reaching their goals and I really wasn’t comfortable just letting go of everything.”
Determined to find an alternative to care, Lagace began conducting free 10- to 15-minute appointments with her clients and was met with an overwhelmingly positive response.
This got her thinking of the benefit this service could be to the general public.
“Why not just offer this to everybody,” she said of her thinking at the time. “There's probably a lot of people out there who are in pain and can't get help right now.”
Advice and support provided will vary according to whether she has met the individual in-person for a physical assessment and the severity of the injury or ailment, she said. Most injuries, though, such as a sprained ankle, have pretty straight-forward guidelines for care.
“It’s not something that we're going to fix, more something that we are going to manage until we can do the full assessment.”
Lagace is currently the only one offering this service at her clinic, as one of her staff members works part-time at a local nursing home and another at Health Sciences North.
“I think their priorities should be their other jobs right now, so I’ve taken on that role, but I am sure they would be happy to help if there was ever a time I was unsure of what to do.”
This being the case and having to work from home to care for her young one, appointments are being offered primarily in the afternoon. Lagace is open to expanding this schedule if necessary.
When asked whether this is something she would continue offering to the general public following the pandemic, Lagace explained that in a way, her clinic always has.
Neuro Physio has always offered phone consultations as an alternative to a client’s first free in-person meeting, said Lagace, but she expects them to become far more popular given the program’s popularity amidst the pandemic.
The following is a brief summary of the benefits Neuro Physio offers in reference to a limited list of specific conditions:
Parkinson's: Neuro physiotherapy can improve an individual’s ability to walk and prevent falls. It can also improve breathing patterns as the common posture that results from Parkinson's Disease tends to make breathing very shallow.
Multiple Sclerosis: Neuro physiotherapy can help improve an individual’s balance and coordination to prevent falls and slow the decline in mobility that this population normally faces. Muscle activation is key to re-educate the brain and motor patterns.
Stroke: Neuro physiotherapy can help improve an individual’s overall mobility and help individual’s learn to use limbs again (whether it was arms or legs or both or one of each)
Acute injuries like strains, sprains or micro-tears: Neuro physiotherapy can teach clients what to do as the healing process takes place. Proper management as soon as possible will allow a person to return to normal activity a lot faster.
Dizziness/Vertigo: Neuro physiotherapy can help reduce the symptoms and identify possible causes of dizziness and or vertigo. The clinic also has the ability to screen clients for more serious conditions and make recommendations should emergency services be required.
Concussion: Neuro physiotherapy can help guide clients through recovery and reduce symptoms.
Chronic problems: Neuro physiotherapy staff can help identify any contributing factors and give recommendations on how to correct them
More information on Neuro Physio and the services they offer can be found online or by calling 705-586-2366.