This project hoped to improve rehabilitation services in the Assiniboine Health District by using three full-time physiotherapy assistants (PA) to work along with two full-time physiotherapists. Three PAs were hired at less cost than full-fledged physiotherapists to carry out a variety of tasks, including clerical work, patient education, and exercise therapies. An internal evaluation concluded that both the number of patients receiving treatment and the frequency of treatments increased while the length of time that patients spent in hospital decreased. Also, there were fewer back, shoulder, and neck injuries to health care workers, and the number of patient falls decreased. However, the study found that patients waited longer for physiotherapy services, possibly as a result of increased physician referrals based on their confidence that the system could accommodate them.
This project was supported by the Health Transition Fund, which was created in 1997 to provide support for evidence-based decision-making in health care reform by supporting pilot and evaluation projects which test innovative approaches to health care delivery. The views expressed herein do no necessarily represent the official policy of federal, provincial, or territorial governments.