By :Selma Al-Samarrai
Inside the walls of Providence Healthcare is a parked SUV, patches of artificial grass and gravel, concrete sidewalks, ramps and curbs.
The Toyota Canada Motor Skills Clinic is a specially designed room where rehabilitation professionals can help their patients practice and regain their strength and mobility. Patients can get comfortable navigating on different outdoor surfaces, getting in and out of a real car —a Toyota Venza — and folding and storing walking equipment in a vehicle.
"This room provides our patients a realistic and safe environment where they feel supported and secure trying new things after a stroke, orthopedic surgery, or an injury, such as a lower limb amputation," explained Shawn Brady, director of Interprofessional Practice at Providence.
The room is used for different purposes by inpatients and outpatients, explained Sarane Poon, occupational therapist and practice consultant in the Orthopedic and Amputee Clinic at Providence.
"From an inpatient-therapist standpoint, we often use the room to practice car transfers with patients. Before the patients go home, they need to practice safely getting from their wheelchair or walker into the car, and vice versa," explained Poon.
"On the outpatient side, we practice on the different surfaces when patients, for example, change their gait aid that they're not as familiar with and that requires more balance to use."
Patients with recent knee replacements sometimes need to re-learn how to use gas and brake pedals, added Dellene Sakaguchi, a physiotherapist and practice consultant for the Orthopedic and Amputee Clinic.
"Often the room is used to problem solve for both the clients and for ourselves," explained Sakaguchi.
"We assess what the patient is comfortable doing, how their walker is best stored and what types of adaptive equipment they need, and then the client, occupational therapist and myself together come up with a good solution."