Main Street Star Gym collaboration works out for residents
Activation and physio maximize program’s reach and impact
A partnership between Main Street Terrace’s programming and physiotherapy teams is helping residents enhance their mobility.
Program manager Lori Jones-Chizewski and physiotherapist Rajkumar Sarangarajalu from Achieva Health report residents at the Toronto long-term care home are regaining functional independence and benefitting socially and emotionally by participating in the Main Street Star Gym program.
Launched in January 2011 with specialized mobility training equipment purchased from Neurogym Technologies, the gym assists residents with mobility challenges by targeting and improving motor skills critical for day-to-day function, such as transferring, walking and standing.
Sarangarajalu, who assesses residents to determine their suitability for the gym, says participants on the whole were achieving good balance, improved dynamic balance and improved lower-limb strength and endurance “so we thought we’ll take it to the next level.”
A monthly sports afternoon in the gym was added. Jones-Chizewski says her team was looking for ways to engage male residents by appealing to past interests and activities.
“Many of the fellows were either into some sports, such as boxing, or they were used to going to a community gym or community centre and doing activities where some of the guys would get together,” she says.
And so, at the Main Street Star Gym, they use the equipment to mimic activities in such sports as basketball, soccer, boxing and golf. Sarangarajalu says the program melds the best of both worlds by integrating functional activities with exercise.
As an offshoot to the program, Jones-Chizewski says some of the men began attending other activities at Main Street Terrace. Word of the men’s-only gym club spread amongst female residents who wanted to join, too.
Participation in the gym club has grown to 30 residents from the original five who, Jones-Chizewski notes, are enjoying the physical activity as well as the social aspect.
“There’s a real social component to the gym; you hear a lot of laughter, people are going by and you hear people telling jokes,” she says, adding residents are getting to know their neighbours and support one another as they challenge themselves.
An intergenerational component has been added, with local school students coming to the gym sessions.
Jones-Chizewski says she’s also seen physical transformations come from the gym program, leading to greater independence and self-esteem.
One resident, for example, has gone from being depressed and bed-ridden with a fractured hip to walking. Others are finding outings more pleasurable because they’re more confident transferring when using washroom facilities.
Jones-Chizewski and Sarangarajalu credit the partnership between their disciplines for the gym program’s success. Program staff, students and volunteers perform tasks ranging from portering residents to and from the gym to assisting residents on the equipment, under Sarangarajalu’s supervision and leadership.
Jones-Chizewski notes that activation co-ordinator Jane Devine and physiotherapist assistant Stuart Michie have also played large roles in making the program a success.
By working together, they are maximizing the program’s reach and impact to enhance resident care and quality of life.
“It’s totally a team approach,” Sarangarajalu says.
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