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MSWA Bulletin Magazine Spring 2021

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What is assistive technology and how can it help you? | Good health monitoring practices | Pain and pain management series: Part 2 | Farewell Marcus Stafford


PHYSIOTHERAPY LOOKING TO NASA FOR ASSESSING BALANCE PROBLEMS Is your balance a bit ‘off’? Have you had a fall or two? Or are you worried about falling? Balance is a complicated thing, according to MSWA Senior Physiotherapist Ben Matthews. “The brain controls your balance by receiving sensory information from your eyes, muscles and joints, and vestibular system (structures located within the ears), interpreting this information, and then delivering an appropriate muscular response,” says Ben. “If this information is disrupted, say as a result a neurological condition, you may become more susceptible to falls.” MSWA owns one of a very small number of Balance Master devices in Western Australia. Development of this device was originally funded by NASA to test the balance of astronauts after a space flight. Now located at MSWA’s Butler Services Centre, the Balance Master is a high-tech system used by the Physiotherapy team to isolate a person’s response to different sensory input scenarios. The person stands or sits in the Balance Master cubicle supported by a harness while various scenarios are tested. For some of the tests the subject’s eyes remain open; for others they are closed. The floor of the cubicle and visual surround can be set to be stable or to sway. “By testing under these variable conditions and isolating one sensory input from others, we can determine which factors are compromising a subject’s balance,” says Ben. “It’s then possible to design a physical therapy program, informed by the evidence gained from the Balance Master assessment, to address these issues.” An initial Balance Master test provides a baseline of results. Further assessments can be conducted to determine if the prescribed therapy is effective. To find out more about how Balance Master can improve your wellbeing and function call the MSWA Physiotherapy team on 9365 4888. “This year, I did a full assessment session on the Balance Master at MSWA Butler. It took about 45 minutes. I found that the machine was easy to stand in and the digital display screen was adequate and easy to follow the prompts. It was very interesting to watch my movements on the screen. The assessment mode was quite jolty and I had to have an assistant holding me from behind. But the results of the assessment mean my physio can now tailor my training to improve my balance and therefore improve my mobility.” NICOLETTE MURPHY, MSWA CLIENT & EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTOR 18

MSWA CLIENT TEEING UP FOR A NEW LIFE IN ALBANY “I’d raced motocross for 11 years, had a state title for BMX, I played off a 4 handicap at golf. I was very sporty,” recalls Kim Graham. “So to suddenly discover I had this thing called MS was a kick in the guts.” Kim lives in the small wheatbelt town of Kondinin and has been living with multiple sclerosis since 2001. He was initially diagnosed when pins and needles started to spread through his legs. These days, he’s lost use of his legs completely and relies on a wheelchair to get around. Kim is keen to point out that – being a devoted Fremantle Dockers fan – his wheelchair is purple. A country boy through-andthrough, Kim spent most of his days working on farms. He now lives in the local retirement village, with a care worker who comes in to help him to dress, shower and do chores. “I’m 6ft 4in, so when your legs don’t work they just get in the way.” “I’ve always been in the bush,” explains Kim. “When I was a young bloke, I came to Perth for four months to work at Cottesloe Golf Course. I realised I hated the city – I’d blow my paycheck before the weekend was over. There were too many women and too many pubs!” Now in his fifties, Kim’s trademark good humour and charisma are still going strong. He is a popular and regular visitor to MSWA’s Margaret Doody Respite House in City Beach. “I like talking to the other residents. The first time I came here I was booked for three weeks, but they kept me here for six because I’m good value! “And the people here are really nice and helpful. The chefs are great – Annette cooks the most amazing food! When I’m at home, food isn’t much of a priority for me.” On his last visit to Margaret Doody House, MSWA staff arranged for him to try the ParaGolfer chair at Wembley Golf Course. Kim explains how it felt to swing a golf stick for the first time in 20 years. “It felt wicked,” he says with a grin. “I had tears in my eyes. “I’ve still got my old golf sticks in the living room. I clean them regularly, and I’ll look at them and say ‘one day I’ll get to swing you again’.” However, Kim is realistic about the future. “The MS is getting worse. It’s harder and harder to live by myself. I find it harder every day to do things. It’s gonna happen,” he says, speaking about the possibility of supported accommodation. Kim’s sister Nicole lives on a farm near Bluff Knoll, so when she heard that MSWA was building a new m residential facility in Albany for people living with neurological conditions, she began making enquiries about getting Kim on the waitlist for one of the 10 highsupport accommodation units that will be available in 2022. Pending NDIS approval, Kim could soon move into his own unit, with access to onsite 24/7 support, as well being next door to MSWA’s newest state-of-the-art Services Centre. The thought of such easy access to physiotherapy, the Outreach group, nursing and occupational therapy is comforting to Kim. “You don’t get nothing like that in the bush,” he explains. “There’s no one in Kondinin who can do physiotherapy for my condition. And at the Kondinin Hospital, all the handrails are too low because they don’t get many 6ft 4in blokes in wheelchairs coming in!” The milder Albany summers and being closer to his sister and her family are also a draw for him. Whilst Kim is saddened by the thought of leaving his closeknit community, he is grateful that a move to high-support accommodation in Albany might be possible. He winks as he says, “Tell ‘em to paint one room purple and I’ll have that one!” 19

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