Portrait

Billy-Ann Houle

Kinesiologist at CIUSSS Centre-Sud-de-l’île-de-Montréal

Billy-Ann Houle

Making a difference

Kinesiologist Billy-Ann Houle’s work involves the repetitive performance of certain gestures, which allows the brain to recognize them and, ultimately, the person to relearn the movement associated with it. The combination of these movements and their succession leads to relearning an activity, a routine or even a simple action like strumming the strings on a guitar.

Combining the useful with the enjoyable

Billy-Ann Houle devotes a great deal of her daily work to listening to her patients so that she can understand their specific challenges. “My first goal is always to enable them to regain or pursue activities they like,” says Billy-Ann Houle, who primarily works with people with progressive diseases. “I ask them what they miss the most as a result of their physical limitations. Climbing, golfing, skiing, and so on. Then I prepare the appropriate exercises.”

The specialist must also educate her patients in a way that’s stimulating. “The exercises they need to do often produce small, barely perceptible, but steady, victories, that they aren’t really able to appreciate the benefit of. So, my role is to help them see the progress they’re making.”

The same applies to self-discipline, a key to success. “If they stop training once they’re home from their stay in a specialized facility, they’ll lose everything they gained. So, I help keep their motivation up.”

To do this, Billy-Ann Houle sometimes uses some original approaches. “One patient loved the game Wii Fit with its activities for balance, flexion, running and so forth. So, I prepared exercises for her around it that were both fun and effective to make the process more pleasant.”

Making a difference through exercises and tenacity.

Billy-Ann Houle

Being aware of the progress made

Confidence is another aspect that she actively works on with her patients. “I recently organized an autonomous walking session in a park for a man who, until then, was using a walker. Because he was going to walk for the first time without this device, he was worried about others staring at him. So, I showed him that the judgment of others was nothing compared with the major progress that the exercise was going to bring him.”

Billy-Ann Houle sees her patients progress at different—but sometimes surprising—rates. One of her patients, who was wheelchair-bound when she first met him, participated less than a year later in a 10-kilometre race!

She admits that not everyone is able to fully reclaim their past lives. “But, through exercises and tenacity, we can make a difference in maximizing their return to a normal life. Kinesiology is also evolving and is being combined with physiotherapy and neurology. The difference we’re making today will keep getting better, even in the near future.”

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