Ironman Ian Gets Back on Track

November 21, 2016| Our Community /

Ian Rea is not your average rehabilitation patient. At 61, he exercises an average of four hours every day. He walks; is a regular deep water runner; swims; rides and runs. And that was after his back operation!

“It’s what I love doing! I really enjoy my sport and I enjoy competing”, he said. But after an old back injury flared up, Ian experienced pain that his doctors told him wasn’t going away without surgical intervention.

Ian’s neurosurgeon, based at Epworth Richmond, offered him a procedure where his disk would be replaced with a space age plastic version. Ian said that he knew he was better as soon as he woke up after the operation. “I could feel that the pressure was off the nerve and the pain had stopped. I was up and walking that same day and I haven’t looked back since,” he said. A few days later he had a second procedure, where his surgeon attached titanium screws and rods to protect the new disk and hold everything in place while it healed.

Ian has completed 200 triathlons!

Rea, a retired primary teacher from Grovedale, has competed in more than 200 triathlons and numerous open water swim events and is very motivated to get back to his old self so he can resume competition. “My wife and I enjoy travel so we usually combine this with an event. We’ve spent time in Hawaii at the Rough Water Swimming Event, been to San Francisco for the Alcatraz swim and to lots of other wonderful locations’, he said.

Rea asked Epworth’s Richmond staff to arrange for him to complete his rehabilitation near his home at the new Epworth Geelong. He’d heard that the new hospital featured private rooms, meals on demand, a fully equipped gym and full access to a large hydrotherapy pool and he was keen to continue his care whilst being close to his wife and friends.

He was transported from Epworth Richmond a week after his operation and spent a week in Epworth Geelong as a rehabilitation inpatient. ““We help people recover after illness and surgery,” said Epworth Geelong’s Allied Health Manager, Catherine Carracher. “Lots of Geelong and Surf Coast patients have their surgery in Melbourne and it’s great that we are now able to offer them the option of rehabilitating close to home and in beautiful surroundings” she said.

Rehab team at Epworth Geelong

The Epworth Geelong rehabilitation team includes rehabilitation physicians; rehabilitation nurses; occupational therapists; psychologists; dieticians; speech pathologists; social workers; exercise physiologists; and physiotherapists. “All our patients have individually tailored care plans that are overseen by a rehabilitation physician. The whole team meets weekly to discuss and monitor their patients’ progress,” said Carracher. “Anyone who needs the services of more than a few allied health professionals can benefit from the co-ordinated care the team provides,” she said.

Rehabilitation is not always an option offered to patients, but can be explored with a surgeon or specialist in order to maximise and expedite the recovery process. It’s an opportunity to re-build confidence and maximise independence before returning home.

The best way to recuperate after surgery is by being actively engaged in your recovery with the support of a team of clinicians. We can educate and guide our patients, but ultimately they do the work, and hopefully feel empowered and confident to return to being as independent as possible at home or in their community, and in time return to the things they enjoy.
— Catherine Carracher, Allied Health Manager, Epworth HealthCare

Fortunately, many health funds support their clients by covering rehabilitation as part of the surgical event, resulting in many patients receiving rehabilitation at no additional cost.

As well as inpatient rehabilitation, Epworth Geelong offer a number of outpatient programs. Referrals can also be made by GPs for patients seeking help with concerns such as falls and balance, pain management or cardiac problems. “Many elderly people are keen to retain their independence and stay in their own home for as long as possible”, said Carracher. “Epworth Geelong is now able to help people maintain and often improve their health status so they can live safely in the community for longer.” she said.

Photo courtesy Geelong Advertiser.

Photo: Rehabilitation patient Ian Rea with Exercise Physiologist Catherine Carracher.


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