A day in the life of…an amputee rehab physiotherapist

A Day in the Life of… Gill Rooney and the Amputee Rehabilitation Clinic

Gill Rooney is a Specialised Physiotherapist based at the University Hospital of Hartlepool and manages the Amputee Rehabilitation Clinic; a service which supports amputee patients to relearn how to use their body after a lower limb amputation. The service takes care of patients from Stockton, Hartlepool and all the way up to Easington and work closely with James Cook University Hospital as they offer the service to design the prosthetic limbs for the amputees.

Currently based at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, the rehab clinic utilises its space to offer the patients a range of activities to best support their progress. The main space is a room filled with different machines and devices for the patients to exercise with, from a multi-gym to parallel bars to an exercise ball and even a balancing board.

“So today we have 17 patients coming in”, Gill began briefing the team of their day ahead. Working on this Monday was Elaine and Gagan, a student physio from Teesside University, who was two weeks into his four-week placement and later joining them in the day would be Tracey, community therapist and Garreth from the rapid response unit.

‘We are expecting eight patients in the morning and nine this afternoon, which means it’s likely we’ll have to prepare patients to wait to manage their expectations.’ Although there were three staff members in for the first morning session, Gill or Elaine would have to observe Gagan through his practice with the patient.

Brian, the first patient arrived just after 9am brought in by a member of the ambulance unit, who work closely with the team as they pick up and drop off the patients for their appointments for those who have no other way of getting to the hospital. Brian started attending the clinic two years ago and relies more heavily on the physio now more than ever due to his wife recently having a second stroke.

‘Are you fitting well Brian?’ asked Gill in her up beat, kind voice. The team had a rapport with Brian asking him questions about how his weekend was and whether or not he enjoyed the football. While Gagan, the student physio from Toronto, Canada began supporting Brian with his bed exercises which included lifting his amputated leg up in the air, holding for a couple of seconds and dropping back down to increase his core strength.

The next patient, Cliffy (Clifford) came into the clinic, brought in by his wife. Cliffy was a lively patient who loved poking fun with the team, which only supported the strong bond the team and their patients have with one another. The team ask about their patients’ friends and family which keeps the space safe and familiar whilst experiencing what can be a challenging time for some of the patients.

Gill was waiting on one more patient, however, they had not showed. This meant Gill had to follow up with ambulance drivers, wards and alternative contacts to make sure the patient was safe.

After Cliffy completed his bed exercises which the majority of patients come in and begin with, it was time to take him outside, using the hospital grounds as opposed to the inside facilities. This is the opportunity to get the patient to experience much more real life scenarios about what they will experience with their prosthetic limb. Gill and Tracy both supported Cliffy. He had to walk outside the hospital and practice getting down from a curb. They then supported him travelling down the stairs towards the car park. ‘I’m bloody knackered, you ladies are taking it out of me’ Cliffy stated, giving himself an extra moment to catch his breath before continuing with the stairs. Afterwards he needed to experience a slope which there is on coming back from the car park and back into the Main Entrance at Hartlepool hospital.

After walking back to the clinic room, it was clear the activities had taken it out of Clifford. However, as it was his birthday the following day, the team finished his session with a lovely birthday surprise and had got Cliffy a card to celebrate.

There were many patients in and out throughout the day. Each one served their own importance within the team’s day and the team ensured they felt comfortable and important while they were in for their session.

 

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