At Brightwater Oats Street, Physiotherapist Peggy Lee supports people with acquired brain injury in their rehabilitation journey. Peggy is passionate about working with her clients to improve their strength and mobility whilst also teaching skills that empower them to move safely without risk of falling.
Peggy says recognising management of falls is so important for staff, clients and their families.
“From my point of view, it is important to raise awareness amongst not just staff, but for the client and their family members too. Working in a stroke rehab and an acquired brain injury setting, a lot of clients can struggle coming to terms with their brain injury as it changes the whole way they move about and that increases their risk for falls. Sometimes they're not even aware about the risks.”
“It’s important to educate our clients, particularly if they might be risk takers. It’s important for us to educate them on every single aspect of falls and help people understand how we manage them. If not, they might refuse to get up from the chair, because they are fearful of falling or injuring themselves, and family members can feel very distressed because they don't know how to help their loved one.”
Peggy says that if a client is a risk taker, it is more likely that they may push the boundaries of what is safe and consequently injure themselves from a fall, but it is about working with the client to make sure they can be independent, whilst also being safe and feeling supported.
“When working with clients who can be high risk takers, they may do things that are unsafe. They might attempt to walk on their own, even though they have been educated about potential consequences, such as an injury. We work with our clients in a multidisciplinary perspective and enable them to do things, such as walking and the special things that they love to do.”
“We find out what areas they can work on when they’re on their own, and make sure that they still have the opportunity to do things that don’t restrict their independence. On top of that they might have a walking stick or equipment in place to assist them. The team provide assistance if it’s needed to help clients get up and move around and we gradually build their programs.”
“If a client really wants to go out for regular walks for example, the support workers put it down into a schedule so that they are available and are there to help them.”
If a client has a fall, the team are always on hand to help them build their confidence and mobility again.
“If someone has a fall, we work very closely with a client’s GP, consultants, and nurses to monitor their pain. We don't want them to be dependent on pain medication, but we want to make sure they can have movement. For some clients we implement hydrotherapy so they can do some form of walking, but in a buoyancy support environment.”
“We continue to empower and encourage them to do mobility exercises whenever they can in a very safe environment.”
Peggy says it’s also important to make sure a client’s home is set up in a way that makes sure they can access what they need easily.
“We make sure that their home environment is safe. We may have to do home modifications, making sure that everything is within reach such as door locks and kitchen utensils. We also work with family members to give us feedback and teach them how they can support their loved one.”
Peggy says education for clients and their families is very important when it comes to managing falls.
“We try and educate them and help them understand when they need to call the ambulance if it’s a serious fall, but also when they don’t need to call the ambulance. It’s also about simple things like how families can help support their loved one get up and about.”
Supporting clients through their rehabilitation journey is very rewarding, and needs a collaborative approach by the team. Peggy said she’s passionate about helping her clients and enabling them to be as independent as possible.
“For me, in a rehabilitation setting, it’s seeing the improvement. Helping them through the journey of rehabilitation is very fulfilling and very rewarding.”
“Many of our clients can be quite impulsive, so we try our best to educate them. We want to give them control over what they can and can't do.”
“It’s all about team work here; I enjoy working in a team and with consultants, cardiologists and different physicians out there to bounce ideas. Being able to coach students and new team members allows me to pass on my knowledge and skills to the next generation.”