COVID-19: Exercise sessions go virtual

CSP members share some of the ways they are adapting their working practices and using their skills in different ways during the pandemic

Exercise sessions go virtual

Louise Gent is a physiotherapist at the Norfolk Hospice. The local hospice charity supports patients with life-shortening illnesses,including cancer, dementia, Parkinson’s, motor neurone disease, heart failure, kidney failure, respiratory disease and Huntington’s disease.

Their Tapping House day therapy team would normally offer patients four circuit exercise groups a week in their day therapy gym. While they currently cannot do this, they have ensured patients are still able to access exercise at home during the lockdown by developing twice weekly online exercise sessions using Zoom. Patients log in using a secure meeting ID and work out for 40 to 45 minutes, including a warm up and cool down, and participate in exercise sessions similar to those they would normally do, using everyday items to substitute equipment they would use in the physiotherapy gym. Sessions include working on balance and proprioception, power and strength and cardiovascular fitness. Using video conferencing rather than just signposting to an online video also provides a motivator to exercise, as it is being done ‘live’ and alongside other patients. This helps to reduce some of the isolation many people are experiencing. 

Physiotherapist Morag Coull works with the Aberdeen branch of the MS Society to deliver two strength and balance classes a week in two different locations. They last one hour and consist of a group warm-up, circuit of 12 exercises and a group cool down. After lockdown was introduced the local committee worked very quickly to arrange an online platform, and Morag now delivers the classes live via Zoom at the same times of the week that she did before. This has allowed the class to stick to their weekly routine and keep up their exercise. Before starting, Morag contacted the CSP and received some helpful advice about running the classes remotely. Uptake is really good and, although not everyone in the class has chosen to or been able to participate, they have also attracted participants from other days’ exercise classes and also from outside the Aberdeen area.

Katy Baines is a physiotherapy lecturer at Oxford Brookes University but also works as a pilates instructor twice weekly. Before lockdown the classes were run at local church halls, but at the end of March she launched Physiotherapy Plus Virtual, using Zoom. She turned a bedroom into a pilates studio and contacted her clients with details of how to access and use the technology, and now says ‘the uptake has been amazing’. Katy has adapted her practice to suit the virtual environment, and enhanced her communication and instruction. She has also added some functional fitness elements along with the pilates-based exercise.

Have you developed an innovative solution?

Frontline is keen to hear from members who have come up with new ways of working or innovative techniques to help patients or colleagues during the lockdown. Email and tell us what you’re doing


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