Wheeling safely: Parkwood Hospital program promotes wheelchair safety

Sep. 16, 2011

Walking takes us easily and effortlessly wherever we want to go. But when an accident or disability leads to the need for a wheelchair, people must learn how to use their new mode of mobility safely so they can access a relatively inaccessible world. That’s where a new program at St. Joseph’s Parkwood Hospital comes in.

The Wheelchair Skills Program (WSP) is a training strategy for people who require a wheelchair for mobility— whether for a few months or for many years. People like Mark Russell. Last year a spinal hematoma left the 45 year old paralyzed from the chest down. After surgery he came to Parkwood Hospital for spinal cord rehabilitation, and since then has needed a wheelchair to get around.  As a diesel mechanics teacher at Fanshawe College, Mark knows the importance of safety and was eager to participate in the WSP program at Parkwood.

“The prevalence of people requiring wheelchairs is increasing, and it is important that we teach people to use them safely to avoid accidents and chronic or acute injuries,” says Janelle Wittig, a physiotherapist with Parkwood’s Regional Rehabilitation Program. “By refining their skills with the WSP we can positively impact their mobility, health and comfort, and most importantly their quality of life.”

The WSP at Parkwood is based on a program developed by Dr. Lee Kirby and occupational therapist Cher Smith at Dalhousie University and Capital District Health Authority, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

(Janelle and Mark will be available for members of the media who want to learn more about the WSP at Parkwood on September 16 at 11 am.)


For more information, please contact:
Anne Kay, Communication and Public Affairs
Phone: 519 646-6100, ext. 42470
Pager: 519 649-9238

St. Joseph’s Health Care, London is a major patient care, teaching and research centre with a distinguished legacy of service to London, Southwestern Ontario and the veterans of Canada, dating back more than 130 years. St. Joseph’s five key role areas include acute/ambulatory care, complex care and veterans care, long-term care, rehabilitation and specialized geriatrics and specialized mental health care. Facilities and services including St. Joseph’s Hospital, Parkwood Hospital, Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care and Regional Mental Health Care London and St. Thomas are part of the St. Joseph’s family. Our research arm, the Lawson Health Research Institute, continues to direct their research to the development of new knowledge that is continually being applied directly to patient care. More than 400,000 patients annually receive care from close to 6,000 physicians and staff at St. Joseph’s. St. Joseph’s is affiliated with the University of Western Ontario.

Back to Newsroom