Deborah is forty-four years old and a mother of two young boys. She has multiple sclerosis (MS). Her condition has worsened over time, to the point that, last year, Deborah’s ability to move about on her own at home became increasingly difficult and resulted in respiratory depression (decreased rate of breathing). As a result, she was admitted to the acute care unit at Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket. During her stay there, she had operations to insert tubes to help with her feeding and breathing. When it was decided that the tubes were no longer required, they were removed and Deborah was deemed appropriate for rehabilitation. She was then admitted to The Salvation Army Toronto Grace Health Centre (TGHC).

Her initial assessment and screening indicated that she could be a potential candidate for the Post Acute Care Rehabilitation (PACR) unit at TGHC. Deborah was motivated to participate in the rehabilitation program since she wanted to be able to walk again and return home.

Deborah’s physiotherapist (PT) began working with her to strengthen her muscles. Her occupational therapist (OT) worked with Deborah on activities of daily living (ADL) such as using the toilet, dressing and eating. Although she was making some gains during her rehabilitation, Deborah’s MS symptoms (tremors and fatigue) were encumbering her progress to a degree that she was unable to achieve a level of independence where she could return and live safely in her home.

After collaborating with the interprofessional health care team, Deborah’s goals were then modified. It was decided that she could attain a level of independence with the use of an electric wheelchair. Her PT continues to work with Deborah on strengthening her leg muscles so she can transfer from her bed to the wheelchair. She also helps Deborah with maneuvering the wheelchair through narrow doorways and provides instruction on the safety protocols Deborah must follow when transferring from the wheelchair to the toilet or bed. Deborah’s OT is helping her with joystick operation on the electric wheelchair console, hallway driving, as well as outside driving.

Deborah is now in a research program sponsored by Ryerson University called “Tecla Shield.” A touch-based, single-switch device, “Tecla Shield” works with mobile phones and tablets to control various assistive devices, such as those that control air flow and temperature, and those that control bed positioning. This single device gives Deborah access to various technologies while eliminating the need for multiple control systems. Instead of typing or tapping, which require fine motors skills, Deborah can use a joystick to do various things, such as search out books and FaceTime her two sons.

Deborah now receives care 24/7. She is supported by the nursing staff, who assist her with ADL as well as clinical management (medication/health assessment). She has expressed her appreciation for the wonderful care and support she is receiving from her health care team at TGHC. Currently, Deborah is waiting to be admitted into a long-term care facility in her community so she can be close to her boys. She hopes to gain enough independence to take them shopping.