Help HSC’s RR5 unit help patients get moving


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 05/01/2022 (510 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

On Nov. 30, which was Giving Tuesday, charities across the city, province and country sought donations to help their causes.

The Health Sciences Centre Foundation was one of them. Having made Metro readers aware of the need for donations such as iPads and laptops for COVID-19 patients about a year ago, Natasha Havrilenko, marketing and communications manager at the HSC Foundation, wondered if I might be able to help again.  

Although the deadline for my column didn’t coincide with Giving Tuesday, I agreed to help raise awareness of the need to raise funds for equipment, such as a sports wheelchair, for the HSC’s RR5 unit. The Health Sciences Centre Foundation hopes to raise money for equipment -- such as a sports wheelchair -- for its RR5 rehabilitation unit.

The RR5 unit helps build and improve independence and quality of life for patients who have suffered spinal cord injuries, endured amputations and been diagnosed with neuromuscular disorders. The specialty adult rehabilitation unit provides beds, teaches skills, and helps patients who have lost muscle, mobility and limbs to become as independent as possible before returning to the community.

Access to a sports wheelchair can assist in the recovery of mobility, and many patients also require equipment such as hand cycles, page turners and book stands to help in their rehabilitation. Recently, RR5 became home to post-ICU COVID-19 patients with damaged kidneys, nerves and general weakness who also require wheelchairs.   

Taylor Owen is a recreation therapist at HSC, where she provides house activities and arranges community outings for patients on the RR5 unit. She also show patients how to adapt and modify their activities and how to use sports wheelchairs and other equipment.  

“With this equipment, patients don’t have to try and imagine whether or not activities are possible,” Owen says. “We can show them what is possible by having them try the equipment.”

Leanne Taylor, a former RR5 patient, says a sports wheelchair aided her recovery. She suffered loss of mobility after a devastating cycling accident left her paralyzed from the waist down in 2019.  Today she is a paratriathlon athlete, competing on the Canadian national triathlon team and also works full time.  

Taylor began using a wheelchair about six weeks after her injury and eight months later she was using a sports wheelchair on the track at the University of Manitoba.

“Access to the sports wheelchair provides a sense of control at a time when you’re feeling a loss of control,” she says. “It allows you to be active again and get your life in order.”
Having equipment in house means RR5 doesn’t have to rely on outside organizations, Havrilenko points out.

“Infection control protocol prevents patients from getting out into the community and they don’t have access to a sports wheelchair here.”  

The foundation’s goal is to buy a sports wheelchair for patients to use on the RR5 unit.

Although Giving Tuesday has passed, the need hasn’t. Anyone interested in donating to support ongoing programs and needs of the HSC’s RR5 unit should contact Natasha Havrilenko via email at or call 204 298-1201.

Donna Minkus

Donna Minkus
Charleswood community correspondent

Donna Minkus is a community correspondent for Charleswood.

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