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January Update

Welcome back, readers! Over the winter break, our team enjoyed taking time off to visit friends and family, cuddle with our pets, and take part in failed pancake attempts. Who knew you could mess up pancakes?! Nonetheless, the Tele-Rehab 2.0 team is back, recharged and ready to tackle the New Year. We hope you all had a relaxing break as well, and we are excited to share with you what has been going on in the lab this month!

Due to the ongoing pandemic (are we in a pandemic??), we have continued to work from home to protect everyone’s safety. That being said, we are determined to maintain a positive attitude about the situation and make the best of it! There has been a lot of negative undertones as we hit the second year of the pandemic, with everyone tired and wishing for normalcy. In the lab, we have done our best to connect through Zoom team meetings to achieve a family-like bond amongst all our members. Although we have had to stay virtual, there have been lots of opportunities for us to expand on our connections and overall, we are excited to be back in the groove!

Starting off, we are proud to announce that one of our Master’s students has successfully defended her thesis and has officially graduated! Congratulations, Emmanuella! Ellah is the brilliant mind behind our Tele-Rehab Experience Measure, and completed her thesis on virtual falls risk assessment. She's learned a lot about what does and doesn't work with the current system and we cannot wait to see what she will do next.

Throughout January, we have continued as usual with patient assessments, which have all been vestibular so far and with all new patients! The assessments were all super successful and we are looking forward to continuing working with our patients as the year goes by. There were a few tech glitches as we adjusted coming back from the break but we’ve got it all figured out now and are certain we’ll breeze right through our upcoming assessments.

Working alongside Alberta Health Services (AHS), new sets of equipment have been delivered to three new sites (Taber, Coaldale, and Drayton Valley) which will allow us to connect with more patients across Southern & Central rural Alberta. This is super exciting to us because this time, instead of us having to drive and haul our equipment over, AHS has taken care of it! We have a few more sets of equipment to deliver in February, and 5 more sets are ordered and en route. There have certainly been some challenges to ordering equipment due to the global tech supply chain issues, but we are grateful to AHS for continuing to support this implementation even through these delays.

Further, we have had fun working with a surgical fellow & his supervisor at the Sturgeon Hospital for a research project concerning shoulder surgery follow-ups. We have loaned the Sturgeon some equipment and we hope to start seeing patients soon! This project will validate the use of Kinetisense for shoulder surgery range of motion follow-up measures. To add onto our current tech platform, we are developing a force sensor and accelerometer which will help quantify a modified version of the empty can test that our surgeon uses. The empty can test is a commonly used test to assess shoulder injury, in which the arms are rotated inwards with the practitioner applying pressure downwards (pictured below).

In addition, the team has made exciting connections with the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Manitoba. With the combined knowledge and resources, we are certain to create something impactful and in an upcoming meeting, we will be discussing exactly how to collaborate - stay tuned to find out what we come up with!

Lastly, we are currently collaborating with AHS to create a post-COVID respiratory health module, which can be used by anyone experiencing post-covid symptoms. Currently, Alberta has one COVID-specific clinic at the Kaye Edmonton Clinic, so anyone outside the Edmonton region might have trouble accessing services. Among long-term COVID patients, the most commonly reported symptom is persistent breathlessness, so we are working to provide assessment and treatment to rural patients so they can receive care without travel. In collaboration with the Breathe Easy program, which has already put systems in place to provide breathing condition support to patients in their homes, our Tele-Rehab module will have patients travel to a local system to access equipment. Although we are not initially providing home-based support, we hope to develop this shortly along with follow-ups.

Thanks for tuning in and we hope you come back soon to read about our ongoing progress in the lab!

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