Queen’s researchers launch program to support people living with physical disabilities during pandemic

(L to R) Drs. Amy Latimer-Cheung, Mary Ann McColl, and Jennifer Tomasone of Queen’s University have launched Get In Motion, a program aimed at supporting those in Canada living with physical disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photos via Queen’s University.

Everyone is facing challenging times during the COVID-19 pandemic, but those living with physical disabilities face their own unique challenges, something researchers with Queen’s University are working to address.

Drs. Mary Ann McColl, Amy Latimer-Cheung, and Jennifer Tomasone are working to ensure people living with disabilities are not forgotten during the pandemic, Queen’s University said in a press release on Monday, Apr. 27, 2020. Some of the challenges those with disabilities are facing during this time of physical distancing and self-isoaltion include maintaining physical strength, lacking support in the home, needing disposable supplies such as surgical gloves, and being afraid to leave the home.

“Canadians with a physical disability are high risk group for COVID 19. Self-isolation is critical to the well-being of individuals with a physical disability. With social distancing restrictions, being active is proving?difficult for all Canadians, especially individuals with a physical disability,” said Dr. Tomasone, who works in Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen’s.

To address this, Latimer-Cheung and Tomasone, along with Dr. Kathleen Martin Ginis of the Okanagan campus of the University of British Columbia, have launched Get In Motion, a free telephone- or internet-based physical activity coaching service for Canadians with physical disabilities. The service provides those with physical disabilities the ability to speak with a Physical Activity Coach, who will provide support and direction to start or maintain an at-home physical activity program.

“Not only are people with disabilities particularly vulnerable during times of instability such as this, but difficult times can also substantially add to their challenges,” said McColl, who works in Public Health Sciences at the School of Rehabilitation Therapy at Queen’s.

Get In Motion is run by the Canadian Disability Participation Program, and will allow participants with physical disabilities the opportunity to connect with a Physical Activity Coach on a basis that works best for them. The Coach and client connect over the phone, or through online video conferencing platforms such as Zoom or Skype. Some participants may only want to connect with a coach once to discuss how to do strength training at home without specialized equipment. Others may want to receive ongoing physical activity support for things like:

  • Physical activity goal setting
  • Planning and scheduling physical activity
  • Developing plans to overcome physical activity related barriers
  • Finding physical activity resources

“Twenty per cent of the population is living with a disability, many of whom do not have a partner, spouse, or children for support. This means they are home and completely on their own,” said Latimer-Cheung, who works in Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen’s. “We need to place an emphasis on the health of persons with a physical disability as they are a high-risk group for contracting COVID-19 and other chronic conditions.

The Get In Motion program is open to all Canadians living with physical disabilities and plans to run throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. For more details or to sign up for the program, click here.

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