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Physiotherapy – Supporting ex-military to overcome their toughest challenge yet

Lead Physiotherapist, Emma, explains how goals, motivation and the right type of exercises can make a meaningful difference to someone’s quality of life.

Our physiotherapy aims to support a person to improve their quality of life, increase their independence, and reduce their pain. Emma explains how they help residents get results:

We set goals by getting to know each resident to understand what they want to achieve in the long and short term. I am always keen to emphasise that it is their goal and not ‘our’ (Care for Veterans) goal. 

If a resident needs to use a full sling hoist to transfer from their bed to a wheelchair, which requires two people to assist, we might set a goal for them to progress to using a mobility aid, such as a standing hoist. Reaching this goal can improve someone’s everyday life by increasing their independence and reducing their care needs.

We always take the time to explain the benefits of a specific exercise. If a person constantly slips down in their wheelchair, it can cause back pain and pressure sores. If they understand that we are strengthening their core muscles to help them sit better and lessen their discomfort, the sessions are more meaningful. 

When working with someone with a progressive neurological disorder, like MS or Parkinson’s, we can still support them to achieve long-term goals for independence. We adjust our approach to include equipment or find a different way around.

Our residents are fully aware that they have challenging physical impairments, which can be very disheartening. However, we know that physiotherapy can help people attain incredible results, so we help someone focus on what they can achieve and show them how to make the most of their day. 

Our gym is a very positive place, and we make our sessions fun by playing music and adding in a bit of competition and a few challenges.

Because we are working with ex-military personnel, they often come from a background of peak fitness. A goal that feels small, such as being able to stand and transfer, might not feel very challenging. Former Warrant Officer in the Royal Engineers, Steve, has previously completed ultra-marathons, but an accident left him partially paralysed with a severe brain injury. 

To motivate Steve, we set him a goal to cycle the distance from Land’s End to John O’Groats on the assisted static bikes. He worked hard each session, and it was a fantastic achievement when he completed it.

Care for Veterans provides a great environment, and we feel fortunate as a physiotherapy team that we get to spend quite a lot of time with our residents. We get to know them, and they often tell us stories of their past, their families, and their military history. We respect them all, and it’s a pleasure to get to know them on this basis. 

Emma Curtis, Lead Physiotherapist

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