Physiotherapy: Beyond Building Physical Strength

Diane Maxwell - Clinical Support Lead, Vivir Healthcare

Diane Maxwell - Clinical Support Lead, Vivir Healthcare

28 September 2020

Physiotherapy rails

​Working in aged care means an interesting, diverse and challenging caseload. As a physio, it is always most rewarding to use clinical skills to assist a person with physical recovery.

After a significant stroke, in hospital Viktor* and his family were told that there was little chance that he would regain any real quality of life. However, they held on to hope as the hospital’s physiotherapist reassured them that it was possible for Viktor to become stronger.

Viktor was serendipitously placed at physiotherapist Nora Tran’s residential aged care facility and was part of the team who collaborated towards Viktor’s recovery from late 2017.

In Viktor she met a quiet, humble, private man with a ‘twinkle in his eye.’ He had become withdrawn, saying he was a “dead man” unlikely to live fully again. Nora remembers Viktor’s very limited function and that at first it was hard to motivate him as despair further paralysed him.

“One day I asked Viktor what Nora's presence meant to him. He replied, with much emotion and gratitude, ‘she gave me life’.”
- Resident Chaplain

There were gruelling sessions by his bedside and at the rail with Nora, but Viktor’s family encouraged him to keep going. The twinkle in his eye often became tears streaming down his face, laughing at their quirky humour and celebrating each small step he made with them by his side. Nora reflects upon the degree of motivation, determination and ‘new mindset talk’ Viktor’s effort took; she was so proud of him.

“We smashed out repetitive exercise for several months until Viktor began to see small improvements in himself.”
- Nora Tran, Vivir Healthcare

He progressed from not being able to balance while attempting to sit on the side of his bed to walking with assistance. To Nora it was a gradual but amazing recovery to be a part of that she was grateful to have spent the last 3 years being involved in.

"Every session was filled with so many laughs, over silly things we both understood! It is a relationship I will always cherish."
- Nora Tran, Vivir Healthcare

Physical healing often demands both mental and emotional stamina. Fortunately for Viktor he had a strong support network which allowed him to have 3 more years of quality living with his family by his side.

Nora demonstrated clinical skills applied with sensitivity, emotional rapport and motivational strategies, including utilising family support, to achieve rehabilitation goals. This is holistic clinical practice – making their day for those we work alongside.

For support with managing mental health in aged care see our free e-book. This resource can support you and your coworkers improve the wellbeing of your residents.

*Some names have been changed to protect the identity of the individuals