Technology is often thought both a blessing and a curse, but for Sunshine Coast researchers and health professionals it is undoubtedly a gift that is improving the care of patients and saving time and costly inaccuracies in mapping trials.
Ask Physiotherapist Ingrid Rosbergen who works in the Acute Stroke Unit at Nambour Hospital. For her, the blessing of technology will be twofold when Wishlist directs three new iPads donated by the Telstra Business Centre Sunshine Coast for her to use as both a research tool and means of helping stroke patients become socially, cognitively and even physically active.
Ingrid’s research project focusses on increasing the physical activity levels in stroke patients, and she said the iPads will help her capture the data for more accurate reporting with the help of a new App developed by CSIRO in Brisbane. “I am the first to trial this new App in measuring activity. Previously everything had to be done on paper – writing everything down, then putting it into an Excel spread sheet and compiling it. It’s a lot of data and a lot of work doing it manually.
“Now using the App and iPads we’ll be able to record data and sync it straight to Canberra to the database and promptly get it back in a format ready for statistical analysis.”
Ingrid said she believes the iPads will also go a long way in improving activity levels in her patients for better outcomes. “People who have had a severe stroke are often in hospital for two to three weeks, and they spend most of this time in bed so we will try to get them engaged by using the iPads that are pre-programmed with magazines, games, audio books and activities as well as through more group sessions.”
Watching TV is often the only activity bedridden patients do, and Ingrid said even then many cannot afford to pay for this luxury throughout their stay in hospital. Many are elderly patients, who lie in bed with nothing to do and not many visitors to provide social interaction – a fact Ingrid hopes to improve with the help of technology.
“We know when you increase activity in stroke patients you have better functional outcomes including less disability and decreased mortality, but with the current fiscal constraints we can’t bring on more staff, so we have to look at other ways to increase that activity,” Ingrid explained. “The iPads will help with this, so when people are in their bed with no visitors we can set them up with an iPad preprogrammed with easy-to-use therapy Apps to help with speech recovery, fine motor skills, writing and even coordination exercises.”
Vicki Christie, Director and Licensee of the Telstra Business Centre, said she was happy to provide the iPads which are perfect for their intended destination. “An iPad is different to a laptop or computer because it allows people to put their fingers on a screen and drag things around, so it is a great device for the older generation,” Vicki explained. “With a computer or laptop they have to type and use a mouse which is difficult for older people and recovering patients.”
The Telstra Business Centre Sunshine Coast donated a total of eight iPads worth $6,702, and apart from the three going to the Acute Stroke Unit, Wishlist will direct the rest to Community Mental Health to help establish a computer-based Cognitive Remediation Therapy (CRT) program to improve cognition and function in people with severe mental illness. The program will help empower patients to maintain recovery and be transitioned from the Mental Health Service to their GP, Community Services and meaningful employment.
Vicki started the Telstra Store Caloundra with James Fountain nine years ago and said it was due to the support of the Sunshine Coast community that it has grown to encompass the Business Centre Sunshine Coast and Telstra Store Kawana, turning over in excess of $31 million per annum and employing more than 120 locals.
“A key pillar of our business has, and will always be, the support of our local community and the groups striving to make it more healthy and vibrant,” Vicki said. “We have supported Wishlist and the fantastic work they do for a number of years and are happy to extend our support to Nambour Hospital for these remarkable projects.”
Wishlist CEO Lisa Rowe acknowledged Telstra’s contribution as a significant step for local health services. “Technology is paving the way for vast improvements to patient recovery, care and wellbeing, and we are so incredibly grateful to the Telstra Business Centre Sunshine Coast for their support of Wishlist and these initiatives,” Lisa said.