Courtesy of Dalnews http://dalnews.dal.ca/
By Sandy Rennie
The School of Physiotherapy commends the innovative recommendations provided by Dr. John Ross in his recent report, “The Patient Journey Through Emergency Care in Nova Scotia: A Prescription for New Medicine.” Dr. Ross is the 20-year veteran of emergency medicine who was tasked by the NDP government to examine the province’s emergency departments and make recommendations.
The report, released last Tuesday, speaks to themes that are currently taught to our physiotherapy students: collaboration, teamwork, community care, and alternative models of access to care that are found throughout the report.
Dr. Ross notes the crisis faced by Nova Scotia’s emergency care system is far more complex than simply a shortage of doctors and nurses, and that “a more rational approach to determining daily physician coverage and some innovation in scheduling other types of clinicians—whether nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, extended-role paramedics, social workers, mental health social specialists, physiotherapists, or others—would improve wait times and quality of care.” (Ross report, page 40)
Our students graduate as ‘generalists’ and have the collective assessment and treatment skills to be important members of the health care team in both emergency and primary health care settings. Emergency department patients who would be potential candidates for physiotherapy care include: individuals with chronic or acute pain due to musculoskeletal conditions; whiplash injuries; low back pain; ankle sprains; knee injuries; wrist, elbow and shoulder injuries; elderly patients with mobility or vestibular issues; and respiratory conditions. In addition to the musculoskeletal rehabilitation that physiotherapists are perhaps best known for, physiotherapists also have expertise in cardiovascular rehabilitation, stroke recovery, cancer care, diabetes care and education, obesity management in children and adults, and rehabilitation following major surgeries such as hip and knee replacements.
The physiotherapy program teaches students the skills needed to promote health promotion and wellness. Students are taught the knowledge, skills and attitudes to know that when physiotherapy is integrated into effective community care teams, seniors and individuals with chronic diseases receive the care that facilitates their ability to stay in their homes, stay independent, active and mobile, and help avoid ER visits. This is another critical component to relieving the stress on emergency departments, as found in Dr. Ross’s report.
A significant component of the physiotherapy program in the School of Physiotherapy is interprofessional education. The physiotherapy program works closely with other health care programs at Dalhousie University to ensure that their graduates have the education, clinical expertise, and case management skills to be effective team leaders and participants and can work collaboratively with other members of the health care team.
Sandy Rennie, PT, PhD, is an Associate Professor and Director of Dalhousie’s School of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Professions.