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Researchers at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Physiotherapy Department, in partnership with McMaster University, hosted an interactive workshop on April 17 for a group of twenty-five local high school students at the St. Joe’s Charlton Campus.

These workshops introduced the major components of the intensive care unit (ICU) through a simulated ICU patient room, demonstrated novel physiotherapy technologies, and included a discussion of associated research and career options.

The workshop was led by Dr. Michelle Kho, assistant professor of the School of Rehabilitation Science at McMaster, who has been conducting extensive research on the use of in-bed supine cycling as a long-term patient recovery technique.

In-bed cycling involves the use of a specialized cycle that is placed at the end of a patient’s hospital bed, allowing them to cycle in bed. This allows patients to stay physically active from a hospital bed while they recuperate. Clinical trials conducted at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton have shown promising long-term benefits for patients who have used in-bed cycling. Students had the opportunity to try this new technology to see how it is used in physiotherapy.

A student uses the in-bed cycle as another watches.

“Patients who survive their ICU stay can have difficulties walking for up to five years,” Kho explained, noting that long periods of inactivity associated with ICU stays lead to leg weakness and increased recovery time for patients. “By studying in-bed cycling at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and at collaborating ICUs around the world, we hope to improve patients’ quality of life after they leave the hospital.”

She also hopes that it will inspire students who attended the workshop to explore the full breadth of clinical research being conducted through the Research Institute of St. Joe’s and McMaster’s Faculty of Health Sciences.

“Hamilton is home to an abundance of health care professionals, researchers, and institutions, working to develop treatments and practices that improve the quality of life for millions,” said Gail Martin, executive director of the Research Institute of St. Joe’s Hamilton. “Through workshops like these, we hope to inspire high school students with a sense of pride in their community and encourage them to consider a career in a health or research-related field.”

The visiting students are taking part in Ontario’s Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program, focusing on Health and Wellness. The SHSM program allows students to focus on a particular field while working towards their high school diplomas, giving them an advantage when it comes time to enter apprenticeship training, college, university, or the workplace.

A student, dressed in a lab coat, learns about ICU operations and care.

This activity was part of an Early Researchers Award (ERA) grant from the Province of Ontario with additional funding from McMaster University, and supported by The Research Institute of St. Joe’s Hamilton and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. This activity was also part of a unique research clinician-scientist placement with the McMaster Physiotherapy Program. Students had the opportunity to learn from Dr. Kho and her trainees in this program, including graduate students, researchers, and physiotherapists.

View more photos from the event here

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