The physiotherapy program at Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance, Stratford, was honoured to receive a SCIFIT Step One recumbent stepper for our rehabilitation gym at the Stratford site.

The Stratford General Hospital Foundation purchased this piece of equipment for the team through generous donations. The SCIFIT Step One provides a combination of strength training and aerobic training that is specifically designed for stroke patients; however, it also can be used for a wide range of patients, such as those with cardiac health concerns.

Trish Vickers, physiotherapist at Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance, Stratford location, noted the SCIFIT Step One, “Improves cardiovascular health, assists with muscle strengthening and coordination.” She continued, “The patient can perform this independently without a lot of assistance from the physiotherapy team. It also allows us to use it for patients who are wheelchair dependent.”

The SCIFIT Step One is said to be a safe and effective form of ‘bilateral upper and lower extremity training’. The device can even allow patients who are wheelchair-bound to actively participate. Vickers noted, “It is utilized in conjunction with other physiotherapy techniques like balance, progressive strengthening, and respiratory and cardiovascular health techniques.”

The SCIFIT Step One is not meant to accelerate rehabilitation but to assist with current methods, “It helps to enhance the current therapy protocols to assist with optimizing patient recovery,” Vickers noted. “Combining strength and aerobic exercise is the best opportunity for rehabilitation,” the hospital website said in their recent newsletter, “Many forms of this combination of exercise can be very strenuous and therefore limits participation.”

The physiotherapist team at HPHA Stratford noted on their website that they have had very positive and encouraging feedback from patients. Vickers said, “One of the patients commented on how easy it was to get on and off the chair, and they also liked the different program options.”

The SCIFIT Step One offers patients an opportunity to exercise independently and challenge themselves as they feel they can. “It's been a long-awaited addition to the rehab program,” notes Vickers, “We look forward to maximizing its benefits for our patient’s recovery.” With the new SCIFIT Step One, the physiotherapy team is now able to maximize rehabilitation time and provide programming that aligns with the Canadian Stroke Best Practice Recommendations for aerobic training.

The HPHA inSITES newsletter noted a heartfelt thank you to the community for the donations to make the SCIFIT Step One a possibility: “We are grateful for these generous donations that help patients meet their rehabilitation goals.”

Amanda Modaragamage, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Stratford Times

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