Physiotherapy in a World of Covid-19

In the November 2018 edition of the HPC Newsletter, Earle Burrows, PT, highlighted how the formation of the physiotherapy profession was in response to the need to improve the physical function of WWI soldiers (which interestingly, in 1918, was followed by the Spanish Flu Pandemic). This role extended into WWII, evolving again during the 1950’s polio epidemic in Canada, but serving a different population, children rather than soldiers. The profession continued to evolve through the changing needs of public health, from a solely disease driven mission, to one of prevention, research based practice and providing streamlined and timely services locally and remotely. 

Now, as in the youth of our profession, we are forced to evolve the physiotherapy profession to address our changing world, dealing with another pandemic, Covid-19.We are providing the same evidence-based services in a new, and streamlined environment, through tele-health (virtual appointments), with new procedures for the safety of all, during ‘face-to-face’ appointments. 

Through time and research, scientists and medical professionals are understanding more about Covid-19. Patients may be hospitalised for extended periods of time due to respiratory illness, resulting in a significant loss of muscle mass, and therefore loss of strength and balance. As well, their cardiac system may be compromised. These are the known short-term effects of this virus, for which physiotherapy has a role to again improve the physical function of Canadians. The long-term effects of Covid-19 are now being monitored through research, with which the physiotherapy profession will be involved. 

New Brunswick, fortunately, has had fewer cases of Covid-19 than the majority of Canada. Physiotherapists in the hospital system have been using their already well established skill-sets to treat patients, with rehabilitation continuing in the hospital and private sector, to soften the impact of Covid-19 on society. Yes, We Can Help.

Patricia Sennett, PT

Patricia is a physiotherapist at the Human Performance Centre.  She has an interest in female pelvic floor problems. You can contact her at 738-8299.