CALGARY -- Alberta Health Services has launched a new help line meant to improve quality of life for people recovering from injury or illness.

Th Rehabilitation Advice Line took its first calls in May as part of a trial project. Since then roughly 500 people have called looking for advice from the occupational therapists on staff.

Terry Smith broke her wrist in late February shovelling her sidewalk. Between the pandemic shut down and her husband’s underlying conditions, she wasn’t able to see a therapist in person.

She says despite some apprehension about getting care over the phone, the exercises she was told to do made a big difference in the use of her wrist.

“I couldn’t move it, just barely, and it hurt every time it moved,” says Smith.

Terry Smith

After a few months of diligent exercise, she now has most of her function back and the pain is largely gone.

The line is also helping people who are dealing with the lingering effects of COVID—19.

“They don’t have the same energy that they did before, they’re getting fatigued,” says Patricia Trainor, an occupational therapist who staffs the line.

“[Some] were in ICU and had to be intibated, that can create, potentially some post-traumatic stress. It’s a wide range of symptoms,” Trainor says.

While the occupational therapists on staff can recommend strategies and exercises for some, more complicated cases or for patients that need more focussed care, they will connect them with the right services.

The line is staffed Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is available for any Albertan age 18 or older.

Alberta Rehabilitation Advice Line: 1-833-379-0563