Laptop physio sessions aid MS sufferers during Covid crisis
Teresa O’Kane was shopping for essential food supplies in her local supermarket on Good Friday when she began to feel dizzy and disorientated.
The 61-year-old retired cleaner who has Multiple Sclerosis (MS) said, “I couldn’t coordinate myself. I felt I was outside my body.”
Once home, Teresa was unable to open her front door. Her husband, Gerry, had to let her in and help her to bed. She stayed there for three weeks feeling badly disorientated, unable to walk without assistance and experiencing acute sciatica.
Teresa said, “My husband had to take me to the bathroom and feed me because I couldn’t use a knife and fork. It was just horrendous.”
Teresa had suffered an MS relapse – a flare up of symptoms that affects about 85 per cent of people diagnosed with the disease. She said, “I couldn’t coordinate my movements and my speech was so badly slurred my husband couldn’t make out what I was saying”.
In the past, Teresa had been prescribed steroids to help her recover from an MS relapse. But this time her GP told her not to take them because they would suppress her immune system and put her at greater risk of contracting coronavirus.
Her symptoms were so severe at one point she feared she would have to go to hospital. That was something she dreaded because her medical condition means she is at higher risk from Covid-19.
Fortunately, Teresa’s plight came to the attention of the Dungannon Multiple Sclerosis Support Group. Thanks to you, the support group is just one of thousands of projects that will receive a share of £600Million of National Lottery funding to help people through the Covid crisis.
Teresa was contacted by physiotherapist Andrew Creaney from The Physio Studio in Dungannon. Using Zoom conferencing software running on a laptop placed next to her bed, he assessed her condition and showed her a series of exercises to help ease the pain of her sciatica.
Andrew said, “I was able to give her a bit of advice and help [her sciatica] clear up and make life more tolerable.”
The physiotherapist was also able to help Gerry O’Kane who suffers from severe back pain. Teresa said, “[Andrew] was my lifesaver, he really was.”
Andrew believes the online physiotherapy sessions can help break the isolation experienced by people like Teresa who have been forced to self-isolate during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Andrew said, “Seeing a physio and having a chat to someone outside of their household can be helpful. Just talking to someone is important. The conversation starts with the health matter at hand, but extends to ‘how are you coping in general?'”.
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18th May 2020
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