Since the COVID-19 pandemic began early last spring, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital has taken measures to protect the health and safety of patients, employees and the community. Those measures include offering Virtual Services to help adults and children maintain their therapy progress in the comfort and safety of home, like ShenaLi Chien.
The 12-year-old Rockford girl was born with cerebral palsy, a common condition that affects her ability to move and keep her balance and posture. In December 2019, ShenaLi underwent selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery to improve movement. Since graduating from inpatient rehabilitation with Mary Free Bed Kids, ShenaLi has taken part in intensive outpatient therapy four times a week.
When the pandemic initially limited in-person outpatient therapy appointments, Shenali and her family were eager to continue her progress. She began working with her Mary Free Bed therapists using Virtual Services’ secure telehealth technology in addition to in-person visits. Staff members created different themes to make the sessions as entertaining as possible, disguising physical therapy as play.
“It was good doing PT at home, because if I didn’t have telehealth, I wouldn’t get stronger,” said ShenaLi, whose favorite virtual session was a cruise theme. “I liked being silly with my PTs and doing physical therapy to music sometimes.”
Virtual Services grew exponentially, from 900 visits in 2019 to more than 2,500 in March alone. As the state began to loosen restrictions, Mary Free Bed safely reopened outpatient services at more locations, however, many patients continue to take advantage of Virtual Services as well.
“ShenaLi is an absolute delight to work with,” said her physical therapist, Andrea Dennis. “She made the best out of a challenging situation. She and her family embraced virtual care, and she continues to work hard towards her goals.”