Rehabilitation team’s clients perform remarkable “feet”
Colour them keen. Colour them determined. But above all, colour them successful.
This past August, a trio of clients from the Constance-Lethbridge Rehabilitation Centre joined participants in completing the Color Run. Though billed as a five-kilometre race, the event invites people of all ages to have fun at their own pace.
Informally known as “the happiest 5k on the planet,” the Color Run gets its name from the playful practice of showering participants in coloured powder every time they complete another kilometer of the route.
For the average person, it would be no mean feat to cover a 5k route at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Parc Jean Drapeau. In the case of the Constance-Lethbridge group, the added challenge was trying to cross the finish line while coping with limited mobility.
The idea was proposed by a client with Muscular Dystrophy who was inspired by the joyful spirit of India’s Holi festival of colours. Natacha Viens, Chief of the Constance-Lethbridge Neuro-Muscular-Skeletal Program, says her team was surprised by the unconventional request, but they make it a practice to listen attentively to their clients’ interests and aspirations when developing a rehabilitation plan.
“We’re always open to innovative treatments that enable clients with physical disabilities to re immerse themselves in their communities,” explains Ms. Viens.
Clients make great strides with help from rehab team
The first step for the Constance-Lethbridge team was to work closely with Color Run organizers to ensure that the event would accommodate clients with limited mobility. “We were aware that our original client lacked some of the basic skills to undertake the challenge, but we were undeterred,” says Ms. Viens. Special provisions included determining if clients could leave mid-course or complete the race in a wheelchair, if necessary.
Next, Special Care Counsellor Philippe Harrison and Physiotherapist Jessy-Ann Lapointe formed a walking group to help the client—as well as five newcomers—upgrade their skills by walking at least three times a week. Striving alongside their peers, the members of the walking group offered each other support and encouragement.
Every step was closely monitored by the rehabilitation team, with clients receiving customized training to help them overcome individual obstacles and reach their personal goals. These combined efforts bore fruit, with several participants making the leap from 300 meters to the full five kilometers.
“All that we encountered throughout this project were “yeses”, on the part of our program chief, the clients, the event organizers, and our leadership,” recalls Mr. Harrison. “When we allow ourselves to reimagine rehab, and when we give ourselves the latitude to explore a different approach, we can achieve some rather special victories.”
On the day of the event (August 26), three clients, three team members and three family members headed out to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, where each client tackled the course at his or her own pace. Whether crossing the finish line unassisted or helped along by their trainers, all managed to complete the race upright and walking.
“There was tremendous buzz surrounding the Color Run,” says Ms. Lapointe. “The energy motivated our clients to accomplish a goal that seemed out of their reach, and work through, right to the end.”
As one excited participant remarked following the race, “My goal was to regain balance, run again and restore my health, but I also found acceptance, friends and a desire to resume life.”
“This sentiment captures the essence of rehabilitation, which offers so much beyond the physical gains,” says Ms. Viens. “Our greatest gratification is to see the impact on the lives of our clients. Such an achievement is only possible through the remarkable dedication of our Neuro-Muscular-Skeletal team. Thank you to all for helping each and every client find their sense of purpose and rise to their own personal challenge.”