Paulene’s Hand Therapy Puts Independence in Reach

Pauline Bates successfully achieves fine motor skills to self-operate her wheelchair


Meet Paulene, She has been living with multiple sclerosis (MS) since she was in her 20’s and recently, has been working with Suheyla, Immanuel and Joshua from the Empower Healthcare team to help her achieve her mobility and independence goals.

MS disrupts communication between the brain and the body by damaging nerves. This caused Paulene to experience decreasing muscle strength, muscle shortening, increasing stiffness and general loss of movement. MS is a progressive condition and therapy aims to support and maintain function and provide the assistive devices and technology required for those with the condition to achieve their personal goals for mobility, independence and quality of life. Paulene uses an electric wheelchair for mobility but has been unable to operate the controls herself due to pain, muscle weakness and reduced movement in her hands.

Paulene was left feeling frustrated by having to rely on assistance for all of her mobility needs. Her goal was to be able to self-operate her electric wheelchair so that she could move around more independently. Pauline thoroughly enjoys shopping and when lockdown is over, is keen to indulge in some much needed retail therapy!

Achieving functional goals takes time, hard work and patience. Paulene and her team of therapists were committed to the task and worked for three months to improve her ability to use her hand and wrist. The rehabilitation process consisted of soft tissue treatment and stretching of the muscles in her hand, forearm and wrist. This assisted with pain management and reducing the tightness in her muscles. Supervised and independent exercise programs were developed and modified as Paulene showed improvements in her hand function. The functional exercise program focused on improving movement of her hands and wrists to allow her to control the joystick that operated the wheelchair.

As her hand function improved, it was decided that a new set of wheels was in order. A new wheelchair with a better positioned hand control joystick was purchased, which allowed Paulene to use her improved hand function to maneuver with greater ease. She is now able to move around inside and outside on her own with her new electric wheelchair! .

Now Paulene is in the drivers seat, she says, “I will not have to rely on anyone, taking control of where I want to go and what I want to do.”

Taking time to get to know and understand each of the residents we work with individually, helps us to understand what is important to them. Combining this understanding with the expertise of qualified and experienced therapists ensures that we can attain the goals that are most likely to improve the holistic wellbeing of people like Paulene. We love to help people live the best life possible and attain the quality of life that everyone deserves.


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