Published on February 07, 2018

Half-car helps patients at Essentia Health-Virginia

To most people, a car cut in half would be pretty worthless.  But to rehabilitation patients at Essentia Health-Virginia, it’s a godsend.  The car helps Essentia therapists assess patients’ ability to safely transfer in and out of a vehicle, without having to go out on cold winter days into a real car.

“With temperatures here, this helps to be able to assess patients without having to bring them out into the extreme cold and icy conditions,” says Jennifer Brearley, who works with rehab patients in Virginia.  “It also serves well for patients who are unable to have a vehicle brought to the facility to use as practice.”

Acute inpatient rehab works with individuals to regain their independence.  Following trauma or a stroke, for example, therapists must assess a person’s ability to be functional in a vehicle.  Brearley says the half-car has helped greatly with assessments.

“The half-car not only helps with patients’ functional ability to transfer in and out of a car, and to get comfortable with vehicle transfers before discharge, but also helps patients practice hand and foot coordination with the gas and brake pedals,” Brearley adds.

The half-car was made possible through a generous donation of more than $10,000 by the Essentia Health-Virginia Regional Foundation.  Foundation specialist Deb Ellingsen says it is money well spent.  “To be able to make the lives of patients who are already going through so much just a bit easier makes us very pleased,” Ellingsen says.  

Brearley says so far, patients have really appreciated not having to go out in the cold to do their therapy, and the staff is also happy to stay inside on cold days.  “So far, it’s working out great,” Brearley says.