Repurposed car helps patients get safely back on the road

05 August 2021

Anyone who’s spent time in hospital will know just how daunting it can feel when the time comes to get in the car to go home.

Although we don’t think about it, getting in and out of the car safely is a skill, and often one that needs to be practised after a lengthy stay in hospital and for patients requiring rehabilitation as part of their recovery.

Charlie rehab car
In July, 86-year-old Charlie was one of the first to benefit from The Wesley Hospital’s new rehabilitation car. 

Charlie was brought into the Wesley Emergency Centre by the Queensland Ambulance Service after waking in the night unable to move and feeling extremely unwell.

Doctors at The Wesley found Charlie was suffering from a blood clot near his brain and quickly commenced treatment to thin the blood.

Rehabilitation became a critical part of Charlie’s recovery and involved twice daily sessions to slowly improve his mobility and confidence to safely move around independently.

“With the help of rehabilitation, I’m making improvements every day. I needed two people to help me walk at the start, but that’s improving by doing different activities every day,” Charlie said.

“The car has been great for me to practise getting in and out safely without touching the door. The team only ever ask me to do what’s possible for me!”

Created by cutting down and repurposing an old ute found at the wreckers, the ‘quarter car’ is now part of our new rehabilitation gym equipment and provides a real-life car door and seat to practise this important skill.

Occupational Therapy Head of Profession, Stacey Johnson, said practicing and gaining confidence to get in and out of the car safely is not only important for going home from hospital, but also for getting patients back into their normal activities as soon as possible.

“The rehabilitation car is a wonderful tool to allow patients to practise the correct techniques in a safe environment. It’s extremely important to get in and out of the car safely and that may mean changing a habit. But ultimately it helps to minimise falls,” Stacey said.

“Depending on the patient’s circumstances, they might also be practising car transfers with different mobility aids, such as slide boards, and their technique may need to be modified.

“Most importantly, patients think it’s a bit of fun! It’s definitely unusual to see part of a car inside the hospital, so that helps to make rehab enjoyable for our patients.”

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