SOME victims of stroke in Killarney are experiencing extreme difficulties accessing a specialised physiotherapy service in Tralee because of the distance involved and the degree of disability they are experiencing.
The issue was highlighted by Cllr Michael Gleeson at a meeting of the Health Service Executive South and he asked if a physiotherapist was available in Killarney to treat public clients and particularly stroke victims.
The HSE said it currently employs 3.8 physiotherapists in the Killarney area who treat public clients, including those who have suffered strokes.
Some clients require access to specialist assessment and treatment and are accordingly referred to the physiotherapy department in University Hospital Kerry where specific expertise in neurology and care of the elderly is available.
In addition to these services a stroke day service was established in 2018 through a collaboration between two voluntary organisations, Baile Mhuire and Ard Chúram Day Centres, as well as the Kerry Stroke Support Group and the HSE.
The day service programme is facilitated by a multidisciplinary team, including a physiotherapist and occupational therapist who assess all clients before, during and after the programme. The service incorporates a mixture of physical exercise and mental and social stimulation.
HSE Chief Officer Cork for Kerry Community Healthcare, Michael Fitzgerald, said an evaluation carried out by the Munster Technological University in Tralee in 2019 has demonstrated the physical and psychological benefits of the programme.
The service, which currently operates from Tralee and Listowel, is available to all clients in the county who have had a stroke and transport to access the service in Tralee is available for clients when required.
Mr Fitzgerald said that during the Covid-19 pandemic, the programme has switched to an online version and plans are in place to return to a face to face service once public health guidelines allow and to also increase the awareness of this new and growing service.