Pioneering a new approach to home exercise : physiotherapy for older adults through community television
Elliott, Sharon June
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The purpose of this case study was to describe my experience, as a physiotherapist, producing a chair exercise program for older adults through community television in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, between 1996 and 1998. Because television production by a physiotherapist has not been previously documented, I also sought to determine the acceptability of the television program by viewers and other physiotherapists. This study was based on a qualitative research design. I used documents, program video tapes, and personal journal entries to tell my story. Data was collected through interviews with twelve older adults and five physiotherapists. I represented the data as a town hall meeting. I created a "moderator" to facilitate the discussion, and a "panel expert" to provide analysis and interpretation based on the literature. The findings were highlighted throughout the discussion as "key points." The older adult participants spoke about the convenience of televised exercises. They indicated that exercises on television were easier to follow than on handouts. The benefits of the exercise program were less stiffness and joint pain resulting in greater ease of movement. Another key point was ongoing motivation and adherence: some viewers continued to follow the exercise program three to four years later. They indicated they would like to see the television program continue; the production of new shows was recommended. These findings were of interest to the physiotherapists. Even though they accepted televised exercises within the scope of physiotherapy, they expressed concern for the safety of the participant. They discussed the importance of being able to screen and monitor viewers, and evaluate the program. The results of this study indicate that community television is an effective and appropriate means of delivering an exercise program for older adults; this program could be of value in other communities with an aging population. Finally, the use of television expands the delivery of physiotherapy beyond the traditional treatment paradigm to one of health promotion and prevention.