FREEDOM TO MOVE October 16, 2020 An arthritic patient now lives life to the fullest, thanks to an individualized exercise program at Horizon’s Upper River Valley HospitalMarg Anderson of Hartland is reinventing retirement living and is busier than ever, thanks to an exercise program and support from the Physiotherapy staff at Horizon’s Upper River Valley Hospital in Waterville. At 72, she is successfully managing her arthritis and feels empowered to stay the course. This is all thanks to a gentle, low-impact, six-week exercise program targeting osteoarthritis of hip and knee joints, and the help of her physiotherapist. “Before joining the exercise program, I was having trouble with my hip and knees and was taking over-the-counter medication to ease the discomfort and stiffness,” explained Marg. “It was when my pain worsened and I started to limp that I reached out to Horizon staff for help.” A NEW BEGINNING Before the life-changing exercise program, Marg’s arthritis was gradually evolving and the pain she felt was becoming unbearable. As years went by, she started talking about her limitations caused by arthritis with health care professionals at Horizon’s Upper River Valley Hospital. Her openness to express her personal health concerns and willingness to be proactive led her to learn more about an exercise program being offered at the facility. Marg was deemed a perfect candidate for the program and started her recovery journey in July 2019. Horizon physiotherapist Marielle Maskell supervised patient Marg Anderson’s progress as she participated the exercise program in 2019. She was very impressed with the individualized approach offered to participants. The exercise room was divided into several stations and, along with other participants, Marg moved from one station to the next while Horizon physiotherapist, Marielle Maskell was there to guide them through movements. Many of the exercise stations focus on maintaining proper hip, knee and foot alignment during functional tasks, such as walking and performing stairs. Others focus on balance, strength and joint stability in both standing and seated positions. “The program is very much a one-on-one approach that is adaptable to each individual’s level,” said Marg. “Each one had to find his/her starting comfort level.” Before the start of a class, participants were asked to identify their pain level on a scale of 1 to 10. This pain scale was also used at the end of each class, and it soon became clear to everyone the program was working. Exercises became easier and participants’ pain decreased as time went by. While Marg greatly benefitted from the class, she also gave much to it. When new participants start learning the exercises, they experience some struggles in staying balanced. Encouragement helps to keep everyone focused. “Marg was a dedicated participant from the get-go and very motivated to work hard and achieve positive results,” said Marielle. “She brought enthusiasm to every class and helped to motivate other program participants to achieve great outcomes as well.” And the program is surprisingly easy. “A few exercises every other day over a period of time has made a positive impact and, in the long term, it is all worth it,” added Marg. “It’s all about doing everyday activities with proper position and form,” said Marg. After the exercises have been mastered, “graduates” are encouraged to continue the routine at home with simple props such as a chair and ankle weights. FEELING HEALTHY INSIDE AND OUT Soon after completing the program, Marg enjoyed a camping trip to Quebec. Armed with a yoga mat, her vehicle and a lawn chair as props, she brought her exercise routine on the road. She enjoys line dancing and, during the COVID-19 pandemic, has been inviting friends to dance in her driveway, where it is possible to social distance. Marg also attained her goal of reducing the use of over-the-counter medications she had taken regularly to control the pain her arthritis was causing. “The exercise program has helped me reach this goal and makes my whole body feel better, and my mind as well,” she said. “Could all this exercise be the reason for my improved golf game?” she joked, adding winter skiing, too, has become much more comfortable and enjoyable. She strives to maintain a healthy lifestyle, enjoying a well-balanced diet and walking an hour a day. “Too many people living with pain suffer silently when they could be addressing it,” adds Marg, who is glad she reached out for help to address the pain she was experiencing. “Learning to manage my pain has really opened up a new fun chapter in my life!” Marg recommends people suffering with arthritis and/or joint pain to contact directly the Physiotherapy department in their local hospital or health care centre to see what types of exercise programs are available.