Physiotherapy helps Antonietta walk again

A young female physiotherapist supports and older woman to use a piece of therapy equipment.
September 8, 2021

In May of this year, 72-year-old Antonietta went from being fit and active, walking for an hour each day, to struggling to breathe, and losing the ability to use her arms or walk steadily.

Admitted to the Rockingham General Hospital (RGH) intensive care unit (ICU) and ventilated for three weeks with a tracheostomy, Antonietta didn’t think she’d walk again, but thanks to the RGH physiotherapy team she was back home and walking with a stick after four weeks of rehabilitation.

RGH physiotherapist Varsha said physiotherapy worked alongside other clinicians with Antonietta right across her treatment journey.

“When Antonietta first arrived on the medical ward, physiotherapy assessed her neurological and respiratory function to aid in her diagnosis of Guillain Barre Syndrome,” Varsha said.

“From there, we assisted her with functional rehabilitation in the ICU, reducing potential pulmonary complications while she was on ventilation, facilitating tracheostomy weaning and aiding in restoring her muscular and pulmonary function as soon as possible.”

“To her eventual recovery in the Aged Care Rehabilitation Unit (ACRU), we helped Antonietta strengthen and retrain her affected muscles and neurological impairments to allow her to walk independently and get back to daily life,” Varsha said.

Antonietta was diagnosed with Guillain Barre Syndrome, a disorder of the immune system which temporarily damaged her neural system, affecting her respiratory muscles and the movement of her arms and legs.

After 4 weeks in the ACRU, Antonietta was discharged home with ongoing physiotherapy in her home. She worked with her Rehabilitation in the Home (RiTH) (external site) physiotherapist towards the goal of walking unaided to go clothes shopping with her daughter, which she has now been able to do.

South Metropolitan Health Service (SMHS) physiotherapists work every day with patient’s like Antonietta across a multitude of clinical inpatient and outpatient areas to optimise their functional and mobility status and facilitate their safe discharge home or return to their usual activities.

World Physiotherapy Day (8 September) acknowledges the contribution physiotherapists make in keeping people well, mobile and independent.

Well done to all our physiotherapists across SMHS who change the lives of patients like Antonietta on a daily basis.

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