11 June 2020

The Trust that runs Shropshire’s two acute hospitals is raising awareness of the vital work carried out by its team of physiotherapists in critical care throughout the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

As the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy marks 100 years since being granted royal chartered status by King George V, its professionals have been fighting the biggest healthcare crisis of a century. Claire Good, Clinical Lead Physiotherapist in critical care at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust (SaTH), which runs the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, explains the invaluable role she and her colleagues have carried out during the COVID-19 pandemic to support patients suffering or recovering from the virus.

She said: “Getting patients moving is where we thrive most in critical care at SaTH. Anybody that can move in some way is encouraged to do so. This ranges from passive exercises or cycling in bed for sedated patients, sitting on the edge of the bed after potentially weeks of immobility, to walking outside in our garden area.

“The sooner patients move the less likely they are to develop long term problems. People can be profoundly weak after a critical illness, in some cases they can lose 10% of their muscle mass in the first week alone. As a therapy team our main mission is to assist critical care patients to feel like they are still themselves. We find out everything we can about them as part of our assessment, often involving their family. This means we can plan activities for rehabilitation that are functional, meaningful and individual to the patient.

“Depending on the stability and ability of the patient, they are encouraged to make a plan for the day, join in with their own personal care and move in some way. In the past few weeks we have walked to the garden, played all sorts of board games, listened to singing and sermons and helped patients to find themselves again. This is what rewards and motivates us every day.

“Recent restrictions in visiting have meant we have had to work harder to maintain contact between patients and families. We work alongside nursing and speech and language therapy colleagues to keep patients communicating with their loved ones from the moment they are able. This may mean a wave on a video call or even surprising a family with their first words after being ventilated for many days.

“The rehabilitation journey for a critical care patient doesn’t end with their discharge from the critical care unit. Some may have achieved their goals, but for others there may be a long road ahead. We work hard to provide ongoing rehabilitation and support as the patient moves to the ward and continues their journey to recovery.”

Maggie Bayley, Chief Nurse at SaTH, said: “The work of Physiotherapists is vital to the recovery of patients affected by COVID-19. I’m proud to publicly acknowledge the dedication of this fantastic team at SaTH.”