Teamwork is as relevant today as it’s ever been and this is especially true in exercise physiology circles. After all, teamwork is a concept that nearly everyone professes to be fond of and we frequently hear the phrase, “I work great in a team!” However, how often is teamwork used when carrying out our day-to-day tasks to improve the overall outcome?
Recently, I closed off an exercise physiology focussed rehabilitation process for a lady where teamwork was one of the most, if not the most, vital components to her overall success. In fact, had it not been incorporated, she would undoubtedly not be back to normality in terms of her work situation and her lifestyle.
How teamwork-based exercise physiology helped Tracey
Tracey** experienced a lower back disc protrusion while working as a carer transferring a patient from a chair to his bed. After undergoing physiotherapy and carrying out suitable duties for approx. 6 months, she was still unable to perform the squatting, forward flexion and forceful transferring that were required to get her back performing her complete range of tasks prior to her rehabilitation.
Prior to her injury, Tracey was a very active person. However, her condition now meant she was unable to get to her morning bootcamps and she found herself missing out on her ‘walks and coffee’ with friends at the weekend. Unfortunately, her situation wasn’t helped by the fact that her friends went on without her while she was out of action; something that further added to her depressed mood and anxiety.
Upon receiving Tracey’s referral, we were able to have a great chat with her rehabilitation provider who had been working hard to try and lighten her work duties and change her working practices. They were able to give us a fantastic insight into every scenario that Tracey was having difficulty with.
With our knowledge of exercise physiology we were able to design exercises for Tracey’s strengthening program that specifically matched these tasks. The aim was to get her moving through a progressive program aimed at first achieving the positioning required and then, once there, strengthen her movements from this position.
Success was achieved through on-going communication
Furthermore, this was not a one-off piece of communication. The rehabilitation provider and I spoke every fortnight regarding Tracey’s progress and the tasks that she was due to perform in the next stage of her rehabilitation plan. We focussed on these specifically in the gym before she would ultimately progress to trialling it in the field under the watchful eye of her rehabilitation provider.
It’s important to mention also that this program didn’t continue trending upwards in a nice linear fashion. There were setbacks, flare-ups, clashes at work, duty changes and job description changes – the usual occurrences in worker’s compensation cases. However, the feedback would continue and Tracey was thankful throughout that she had two great health professionals working hard to ensure everyone was on the same page.
And what was the result?
Tracey progressively worked her way through each stage of the rehabilitation process; building up her confidence to re-enter the tricky positions required with her newly gained strength; ultimately re-commencing her full duties and not looking back.
What have I learnt from this successful outcome?
Often we think we’re being team players by having one conversation with another health practitioner and thinking we know where we’re heading. However, one week later the process can have moved off on a totally different track without us realising and inevitably left you and the work you’re doing behind.
The key is to keep talking.
The nature of multi-person processes like Workcover and CTP is that oftentimes information unfortunately gets lost in the pipeline or in translation. Communicate often. Explain the gains, the losses and your ever-changing plans.
I’m rarely told that I over-communicate; it’s always appreciated.
At Specialised Health, great rehabilitation is what we give our clients, great communication and interaction is what we give everyone else.
** Name changed for privacy reasons