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Tele-Rehab Stories: Carin

Hi all, happy Wednesday! It’s Perri-Lynn here, back with the second story in our short series.

I am more than grateful to be able to interview these patients and hear their stories, but the best part is being able to share them with you! It’s most definitely my favourite part of my involvement with Tele-Rehab 2.0.

Today I would like to introduce you to this lovely woman, Carin. She was my first interviewee and she handled my insecurity and discomfort with interviewing with ease, making me feel right at home. When I asked her to tell her story, she did so, beautifully. I’d like to share it with you in turn.

Carin lives in Hinton, Alberta where she enjoys the outdoors, visiting with her friends and daughter and playing a lot of bingo! She likes to stay up late watching TV and loves old cars! Her favourite is a blue 1962 Mustang.

Leading a very busy, active life as a young girl Carin played piano, danced and figure skated. At 14 she kept falling in dance, but it was suspected to be a back injury. Then, while figure skating at 17, she had a fall after pushing off the ice. Carin didn’t know what happened then, but it later led to her being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the young age of 19, and so her healthcare journey began.

Carin’s MS is a very slow progressing type, so she says she has had a fairly slow journey thus far, but it has progressed enough that she is now in an assisted living facility and has limited mobility below her neck. Thankfully though, Carin's specialist says her MS will not affect her vision. Further complicating things, Carin also suffers from vertigo, so some days can be much harder than others. When the vertigo acts up it can last a few days at a time and she can have a hard time even getting out of bed.

Carin has been using a wheelchair for a few years, but not one made specifically for her so she has not been very comfortable. Luckily, there are physiotherapists and occupational therapists in the Hinton area who can go up to Carin’s home and make adjustments to the chair for her. There is also a neurologist that travels to Hinton, typically every 3 months to work with her. Unfortunately, COVID has put a hold on their visit (much like a lot of other things).

These people are key in Carin’s journey for many reasons, but especially because they help to limit her trips to Edmonton which, as one might expect, aren’t pleasant. A trip to Edmonton for Carin includes 6 hours of rough riding in the back of an ambulance, along with all the time it takes for her appointment. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound very fun to me.

Even with all this help, it became clear that Carin was not going to be comfortable in the chair as it was. Enter Amberlie! It was with Amberlie that the search for a new chair began. Amberlie is one of Carin’s occupational therapists who travels weekly to Hinton to be able to see Carin. Through working with Carin, Amberlie determined that the best way to make Carin more comfortable and improve her quality of life was to make changes to the chair. This is where Tele-Rehab 2.0 comes in! After seeing many specialists in Edmonton, Tele-Rehab 2.0 allowed Carin to connect with a seating specialist virtually.

Carin’s seating process was lengthy, as COVID delayed the equipment arrival extensively, but it was well worth the wait. Without Tele-Rehab 2.0, she wouldn’t have been able to connect with a specialist without making the dreaded trip to Edmonton, and would have stayed in discomfort for much longer. She confessed that she likely would never have received these seating supports if it weren’t for our program. This just proves that Tele-Rehab 2.0 provides accessibility to care. For someone without complete independence like Carin, being able to access a specialist virtually makes a world of difference, but without programs like ours, that access is much harder. Through Tele-Rehab, the specialist, Genevieve, was able to assess Carin just like she would in the clinic, and they worked together with Amberlie to find a seat to fit her needs. Carin is more than satisfied with her new seat and it makes her feel much more comfortable.

Carin’s journey is far from over. She is looking into getting a new power chair but must find out which specialized driving mechanism she would prefer. Carin and Amberlie explained some of the options to me, which are all pretty neat! And if Carin needs seating for her new wheelchair, Tele-Rehab 2.0 will be there to support her.

Myself and the rest of the Tele-Rehab 2.0 team are so thankful that our patients like Carin are willing to share their story. Speaking with me was very emotional and it was so special to share those moments with her and hear about her life. I feel so good when I am able to connect with a patient and have a good conversation like I did with Carin. It's important to be able to share stories like this with others to show how we can make a difference for so many people, and it’s amazing to see the positive impact we are having!

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