“I always did a lot of things while I could.
Thanks to St. John’s rehab, I realize that I still can.”
– Rene

Rene’s Victory: Getting a Charge Out of Life

Rene is adventurous, daring and determined. From skydiving to swimming with sharks, he seizes each day. In April 2008, a car accident put his life on hold. Determined to get to safety, Rene crawled out of his vehicle and to the road. He accidentally grabbed a downed hydro wire, sending thousands of volts of electricity surging through his body. With the help of St. John’s Rehab Hospital, Rene’s determination stayed intact. Just 10 months later, he was in Mexico, scuba diving more than a dozen times in a single week.

Rene lost part of his right arm and burned nearly 20 per cent of his body. His electrical injuries are severe and visible. But sometimes electrical injuries can’t be seen or understood. Survivors often deal with tremendous pain and a long recovery filled with self-doubt. Our research has found that there are often unseen psychological, neurological and musculoskeletal after-effects that can have a devastating long-term impact.

Researching Electrical Injuries

St. John’s Rehab is the only specialized rehabilitation program in Canada working clinically and publishing research on the effects and treatment of electrical injuries. Combining patient care with research, we evaluate and develop new, practical treatments to help patients manage the complexity of their conditions.

Our researchers have also found that electrical injury survivors’ levels of pain, and their use of pain medication, noticeably decreased after participating in rehabilitation. The patients were also able to move beyond depression and insomnia. Recently published in the Journal of Burn Care and Research, this study confirms the importance
of specialized rehabilitation in helping people return to leisure, family and, in some cases, work.

St. John’s Rehab researchers have worked alongside our acute care partner, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, on five different studies over the past five years. The discoveries will provide electrical injury survivors with the expertise and care required to meet their complex needs.

Patient Care Excellence: Getting Patients Back On Track

Rene benefited from the expertise of our Back on Track outpatient rehabilitation program, which focuses specifically on recovery from motor vehicle and work related accidents. Our interprofessional team of specialists treats clients who have sustained traumatic amputations, burns and electrical injuries, as well as complex orthopaedic and mild to moderate acquired brain injuries.

We provide high-quality, cost-effective, evidence-based care for clients of motor vehicle insurance and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. The program helps patients progress towards their pre-accident levels of function in their work, leisure activities and daily lives.

Building Our Future

While the Back on Track program and all of our outpatient services deliver excellent results for survivors of injuries and illnesses, our team is hampered by an aging infrastructure that is up to 75 years old.

After years of anticipation, planning and fundraising, the hospital has embarked on its first major redevelopment since 1973. Construction crews have rebuilt our parking lots, loading dock and site services. In the spring of 2010, we began construction to bring all of the hospital’s outpatient services into the modern, 49,000-square foot John C. and Sally Horsfall Eaton Centre for Ambulatory Care.

Upon completion in 2011, the new centre will feature expanded interprofessional treatment areas, a fully accessible main hospital entrance, a state-of-the-art therapy pool and space for more specialized treatment equipment. In 2011/2012, we will also renovate our inpatient wing and expand treatment space by moving 160 beds from four floors to five.

Our redevelopment is possible thanks to the Government of Ontario, our staff, our Sisters, our volunteers, our community and our generous donors to the $15 million Rebuilding Lives campaign.