Health care aide Dawn Dickey adjusts pillows for patient Karen Young who is participating in End PJ Paralysis program. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Red Deer hospital hopes to get patients moving

Red Deer’s hospital is encouraging patients to put an end to pj paralysis.

The term is used to describe the negative effects experienced by patients who spend lengthy periods of time inactive and in their pyjamas or gowns while in hospital.

A new voluntary, mobility initiative called End PJ Paralysis at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre involves patients getting out of their sleepwear, into regular clothes, and out of bed.

Patient Karen Young, 60, who is healing from a broken femur and arm, said she definitely felt better wearing her normal clothes.

“Just a couple days of putting my clothes on makes me feel positive. It really motivates you to get healed.

“You want to do something. You want to get out of bed,” said Young, of Maskwacis, who was injured after she fell in March while stepping out of a vehicle.

Red Deer hospital is the latest Alberta Health Services facility to adopt the initiative that originated in the United Kingdom.

A survey of patients who took part in the pilot phase of the program in Red Deer showed about 73 per cent strongly agreed that getting dressed encouraged them to move.

Roughly 74 per cent said it made them more likely to get out of bed.


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Young was regularly getting out of bed and into her wheelchair before a recent setback. She can’t wait to resume her activity.

“This is the second day I’m sitting up. Hopefully, in the next week or two, I’ll be able to get into the wheelchair again.”

She said nurses at the hospital are a big help getting dressed.

“I don’t think I’d be where I am if it wasn’t for the nurses and health care aides. They’re really encouraging,” Young said.

Clinical resource nurse Shelia Hill said even when patients are bedridden, it’s nice for them to wear their own clothes, such as a sweater, so they can become individuals again.

“The thing I like best about it is it gives them a sense of identity. When we bring them into the hospital, we strip them down into pyjamas and they become non-entities,” Hill said.

So far, two units are involved in End PJ Paralysis and about 55 per cent of patients participate, she said.

“The dream of the hospital is for it to go hospital-wide, but we haven’t made that step yet.”

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