Making a Difference, One Patient at a Time

Written by Claire Suttles

Lifemark has grown to become one of Canada’s largest independent healthcare providers. The healthcare leader boasts over 120 clinics across seven provinces providing comprehensive rehabilitation programs and services and independent medical and functional assessments.
From physiotherapy, massage therapy, and occupational therapy to kinesiology, and chiropractic, Lifemark delivers fully integrated, individually tailored rehabilitation programs to help patients achieve optimal health, a quick recovery from illness or injury and a safe return to work.

Lifemark successfully combines high quality treatment programs with excellent customer service. “Nationally, we have a 95 to 98 percent rating on customer satisfaction surveys,” says Krista McIntyre, Lifemark’s National Director of Program Development for Specialty Services. “We also strive for excellence in our treatment outcomes. Ninety percent of our patients that have a goal of returning to their activities of daily living achieve that goal. Ninety percent of our patients achieve their symptom improvement or pain reduction goal, and 80 percent of our clients that have a return to work goal achieve that goal. Our goal is to focus on a functional recovery and to increase levels of activity in a meaningful and productive manner. We think that our outcomes certainly speak for themselves.”

Lifemark’s clinical teams which can include physiotherapists, occupational therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, and kinesiologists, work together as a team to develop a personalized treatment program. “We have a large network of therapists who share best practice information and assist each other in bringing practical solutions forward. The client can have multiple care providers reviewing their status from different perspectives so they can get the support that is needed to allow them to have an optimal recovery.

Patients also benefit from Lifemark’s renowned specialty programs. Vestibular rehabilitation—one of the company’s most established programs—focuses on dizziness and balance. “One in five people out there have balance and dizziness problems,” Ms. McIntyre reports. “Vestibular rehabilitation can have a significant impact on our patients’ lives.” The goal is to identify the underlying cause of a patient’s symptoms and develop the appropriate treatment plan based on the latest research. The clinical staff participate in ongoing education to stay current and involved in innovative rehabilitation techniques.”

Another area of speciality is the pelvic health program, an evidence-based “first line of defence against things like incontinence and pelvic pain.” Developed for both men and women, “the focus of pelvic health physiotherapy is to reintegrate a healthy pelvic floor into normal functioning in the body.” A range of related issues and chronic pain can be alleviated by this program’s individualized treatment plan. “It covers a huge realm of problems.”

Cancer rehabilitation is a leading edge concept that is beginning to gain a strong foothold in forward thinking medical circles. “We know that cancer is being diagnosed at an increasingly alarming rate, but fortunately more people are surviving cancer than ever before,” Ms. McIntyre remarks. “Cancer rehabilitation is an emerging field and it is very strongly supported in a lot of the recent research for all different types of cancer diagnoses and at all different stages of the disease.”

Lifemark’s program targets a wide range of issues—caused by both the cancer itself and by the medical treatments—from fatigue and pain to decreased mobility and sensation loss, as well as cognitive and emotional concerns. “All of those things can lead to various levels of disability. Timely intervention, focused on returning that individual to their full functional potential, can improve their quality of life.”

Lifemark utilizes a range of different methods to best support cancer patients. “Our cancer rehabilitation will help clients optimize their physical and mental well being with proven therapeutic methods like exercise, manual therapy, massage therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy approaches, as well as acupuncture and other specialized services like manual lymphatic drainage. We are confident that cancer rehabilitation will become a standard of care for all cancer patients in Canada. And our experienced clinicians are well-positioned to provide this service across the country.”

The team also offers cognitive services. “We are acutely aware of the rise in mental health challenges at home and in the workplace.” The cognitive services provide a holistic treatment plan for each patient, focusing on both the physical and cognitive aspects of injuries and illnesses. “[We are] helping people restore their function and facilitating a return to their normal activities. We evaluate the real life impact of changes to an individual’s memory, attention, as well as problem solving and learning skills amongst other cognitive functions. We provide strategies to compensate or adapt to those problems.”

While the cognitive services can be a part of any clinical program, it comes into play the most with the company’s Concussion Care program. The team assesses concussions, guides an active rehabilitation program, and provides standardized baseline testing to evaluate a patient’s progress. “Our multidisciplinary approach to assessment and treatment is designed to help patients recover as quickly and safely as possible. We also have to acknowledge that every concussion is unique and we do tailor our care to meet the needs of that individual person.”

The team is eager to raise awareness about concussion prevention and treatment. “We work actively at connecting with organizations and sports teams and schools and try to educate them on concussions because there still are a lot of misconceptions about concussions and concussion treatment,” says Joseph Alejandria, Business Development Lead of Concussion Management. “We have a big role to play in educating the general public and local communities about good concussion management. Our clinicians are committed to connecting with sports teams, schools, workplaces and other medical professionals to ensure we are making decisions that are in the best interest of the concussed athlete or employee.”

Concussion treatment is gaining ground throughout Canada as the public becomes better educated about head injuries. “It is being talked about so much more in the media because of all the high level professional [athletes] that are sustaining concussions and then talking about them,” Ms. McIntyre points out. “People are talking about it a lot more and it is being more acknowledged in kids. We used to think they just hit their head and they will be okay—but we can’t brush it off that way. We need to make sure that they are being properly assessed and receive timely treatment.”

However, there is still a lack of awareness regarding who is at risk of concussion. “A lot of the times we have parents [who] think that concussions only occur in athletes or in individuals who are playing a specific physical contact sport,” Mr. Alejandria remarks. “Really, concussions happen every day. They can happen with falls at work, or motor vehicle accidents. You don’t have to be playing football or hockey to experience this kind of injury. So it is not just reaching out to sports teams, but it is trying to get out to the general public as well.”

The team’s research-based, holistic approach is “results-focused,” making it easy to demonstrate that Lifemark’s treatment really does make a measurable difference. The healthcare provider plans to keep focusing on practical, results-based treatment to get patients back to living their lives. From adopting the latest technology to updating its offerings with new specialty programs, Lifemark is well prepared to make a lasting impact.



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