CALGARY -- When physiotherapy clinics in Alberta were mandated to close for non-emergency patients because of the COVID-19 pandemic, BreAnne Henry knew her patients' needs wouldn't stop as well.  

So the part-owner at FixPhysio in the northwest community of Brentwood has started using something called ‘tele-rehabilitation’ — a secure video chat typically used in rural areas where clients can’t always make it in to see their physiotherapist.

And because Henry knows her patients' histories, she’s able to help them virtually.

“So that way I’m able to re-assess them through the camera,” said Henry.  “So I can still look at their range of motion, I can watch the way they’re doing exercises and then I can progress just depending on how they’re doing.”

A handful of clients are reaching out for remote treatments but Henry is hearing from an increasing number of people who are suffering from aches and pains as a result of working from home.

Colin Colville is an engineer and adjusting to working from his house.

“I’m fortunate at work to have a desk that can automatically raise and lower,” said Colville.  “So periodically throughout the day I’ll stand for a couple hours, which is a huge help.”

But Colville’s chair doesn’t have the same support and his desk is different. He now has pain in his upper back and is getting some relief through a 15 minute tele-rehab session.

“I think it’s critical and I’ll be the first to put my hand up, I’m probably on the lower percentile of people out there who are going through something right now,” said Colville.  

“Obviously we all have to do our part we all have to stay distant and if I’m experiencing this level of discomfort there’s probably thousands of other people that are experiencing amplified levels of discomfort and issues.”

Henry is still able to see patients in dire need of help. One of her regular patients is on a number of pain medications and is unable to sit for more than five minutes at a time.

She gets some relief through Henry’s treatments.

“Yesterday she called me in a panic because she was just in so much pain that she was like, 'either I go to the ER or I come and see you,' so I said, let's see what we can do,” said Henry.  

Henry was able to treat her in person and keep her out of the hospital where staff is focused on COVID-19.

And while FixPhysio is helping patients, it’s also giving back to the community.

“We’ve decided to open up a campaign page through the Calgary Food Bank and we’re accepting donations of  tele-rehab visits or for people,” said Henry.

Standing in the clinic after cleaning every surface and piece of equipment, Henry says she is having a hard time adjusting as on a typical day, the clinic would have upward of 50 clients, but now it sits empty.

“We run yoga and pilates here, we have a psychologist here, we have a functional rehabilitation specialist and sometimes we will have two or three physios here at the same time,” said Henry.  

“So when everyone is here and the room is just buzzing, it’s such a different energy, it’s just so strange.”

Learn more about FixPhysio online