Portrait of Billy-Ann Houle

Making a difference

Billy-Ann Houle, kinesiologist at CIUSS Centre-Sud-de-l’île-de-Montréal

Kinesiology involves the repetitive execution of certain movements, which enables the brain to recognize those movements and, ultimately, enables the person to relearn them. The combination and succession of these movements allow a person to recover the ability to perform an activity, routine or even a simple action like strumming a guitar.

Therapy that’s both useful and enjoyable

Billy-Ann Houle is a kinesiologist who devotes much of her daily work to listening to her patients in order to fully understand their particular challenges. “My first goal is always to enable them to return to or pursue the activities they love. So, I ask them what they’re missing the most due to their physical limitations. Rock climbing, golf, skiing, etc., and then I prepare the appropriate exercises.”

This expert must also make sure that her patients realize the progress they’re making, to keep them motivated. “Because the exercises they do often result in small victories that are barely perceptible—but constant—people don’t always realize the full benefit. My role is to show them the progress they’re actually making.”

Self-discipline is also crucial to success. “If they stop training once they go home after their stay at a specialized facility, they’ll lose what they’ve gained. So, I help them stay motivated.”

To achieve this, Billy-Ann Houle uses some pretty original approaches. “One patient was a big fan of the game Wii Fit with its challenging balance, flexion and running feats, so I prepared some fun and effective exercises to make her recovery process more enjoyable.”

“Through practice and persistence, we make a difference.”

Emphasis on progress

Confidence is another aspect that Billy-Ann Houle actively works on with her patients. “I recently organized an autonomous walking session in a park for a man who, up to that point, was using a walker. Because he was going to be walking for the first time without this aid, he was worried about what others would think when they saw him. So, I talked to him about how the judgment of others means nothing compared to how much progress he’d be making with this exercise.”

Billy-Ann Houle watches patients progress at different rates and is sometimes astounded by what she sees. One man, who was in a wheelchair when she first met him, participated in a 10-km run less than a year later!

Billy-Ann Houle admits that it’s not always possible to get patients back to their former lives. “But, through exercises and determination, we make a difference in getting them as close as possible. What’s more, kinesiology is constantly evolving and combines well with physiotherapy and neurology. The impact we have on recovery today will only get better and better, even in the near future.”

“Through exercises and determination, we make a difference.”

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