Q&A with Sierra Castonguay

In support of Parkinson’s Disease Awareness month this April, we’re introducing the community to the members of an Okanagan Movement Disorders Clinic at Kelowna General Hospital and their work to support patients and their families navigating a Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis.  

KEEPING PATIENTS MOVING 

For someone with a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, the journey to navigate the changes they experience in their body and mind can be frustrating and daunting. But thanks to an Okanagan Movement Disorders Clinic at Kelowna General Hospital (KGH), patients and their families have access to compassionate and comprehensive care.  

Meet Sierra Castonguay, (MScPT), and a physiotherapist with the Okanagan Movement Disorders Clinic at KGH who uses her training to help keep patients moving forward — in more ways than one.   

What made you decide to join the Movement Disorder Clinic at KGH? 

I enjoy working with people at a variety of stages of mobility and this opportunity allowed me to bring physiotherapy services to a population that was previously not served. 

What is your role with the Clinic and what are your primary responsibilities? 

My role with the Clinic involves assessing mobility levels and recommending exercises or resources for our patients. I also connect patients with physiotherapy resources in their area and educate patients and other physiotherapy team members about the benefits of exercise for Parkinson’s disease. 

How does your role in the Clinic support/address some of the challenges these people face? 

Patients with Parkinson’s experience stiffness, slow movement and imbalance. My role has a direct effect on these people’s lives – I get to help them with their daily tasks or bigger exercise goals.  

As part of the Closer to home than you think campaign, the KGH Foundation has committed to raising $5 million to establish a Centre of Excellence for Brain Health at Kelowna General Hospital (KGH)—a hub for training, research, innovation and leadership in the rapidly expanding fields of neuroscience, stroke care, degenerative movement disorders, chronic pain, dementia and other related clinical focuses. 

The Centre also aims to support the advancement of excellence in brain health care, bringing research closer to regional patients and providing them access to the best possible treatments and life-saving care, close to home. 

What is your vision for the Centre of Excellence in Brain Health at KGH? 

I see the Centre providing more timely service and support to patients, in addition to expanding our services (i.e., exercise classes, open gym time) to our local patients while providing outreach services for our out of town patients. Everyone deserves access to excellent and tailored care.  

Why do you feel the Centre, and the work you do, are important for our community? 

The work and the services we provide are so important for the health and quality of life for patients living with Parkinson’s and other movement disorders. We can help keep them as active and happy as possible as they navigate their own unique challenges. 

What is the most gratifying aspect of your work? 

It brings me a lot of joy to see patients learning to move their bodies in a way that works for them. And I love seeing patients remain independent or continue to participate in activities that they thought they would have to give up.  

Earlier this year, the family of one of Dr. Wile’s patients, Barry Humphreys, announced a $1 million commitment to the KGH Foundation to advance regional Parkinson’s care at KGH 

This gift will grow the Movement Disorder Clinic’s capacity by helping to recruit more specialists who are skilled in the diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s and related conditions as well as fund projects and solutions that will advance care. It will continue to integrate wrap-around supports and develop a team-based care model that connects other sites across our vast region. 

For more information and to give, please visit Brain Health | KGH Foundation 

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