Caption: Mr Chin using the Smart Health TeleRehab to exercise at home
Since young, Mr Chin Tian Loke, 72, has always realised his spine was curved. Over time, the angle of the spine curve worsened. With an s-shaped back, he had to endure pain and discomfort each time he walked as the curvature caused stress to occur on his spinal discs, nerves and muscles. His mobility was also affected and he could not squat or bend. He also suffered from frequent back and neck pains, and had breathing and sleeping problems.
Mr Chin spent 20 years working as a laboratory technician before taking up odd jobs. It was only at the age of 60 when Mr Chin was finally diagnosed with scoliosis, a medical condition which causes the spine to curve to the side. By then, his legs were swollen and his back and neck pain had become unbearable. He decided to quit his job as a maintenance officer at a condominium due to his weakened state. It was during this period, he started seeking medical help and made frequent trips to the hospital. Mr Chin had to also put on medical compression stockings, which he wore for more than 10 years.
In June 2016, Mr Chin had to undergo a major neck and spinal cord surgery as his doctors warned him of the possibility of losing his nerve functions which may lead to paralysis. Two titanium rods measuring 5.5mm in diameter with dozens of screws were inserted into his spinal cord to further straighten and support his back. He spent four months recuperating in the hospital, of which more than half of the time was spent on rehabilitative therapy. By then he also lost his hearing on his left ear.
However, shortly after his discharge from the hospital, Mr Chin had a fall and broke his spinal tail bone in November 2016. He was rushed to the hospital. He was then a referred to TOUCH Home Care (THC) to receive further support at home. Mr Chin is alone at home most of the time as his brother works long hours. THC assessed his needs and helped to take care of his meals, accompany him to the hospital for medical appointments and keep his home clean. In 2017, he was put on THC’s rehabilitation therapy, which included a strength training programme.
As Mr Chin lost 10 kg since the operation, he is determined to further strengthen his body muscles and to build more body mass. More importantly, he wants to do away with his belt, which he has been wearing for the past twenty years to support his body. Mr Chin is motivated to improve his mobility as he wishes to return to the community to continue his normal activities like going to the market to buy groceries and doing his banking activities.
In April 2017, Mr Chin was introduced to Smart Health TeleRehab – a first-of-its-kind smart device developed by researchers from the National University Singapore and implemented by the Integrated Health Information Systems, the technology agency for Singapore healthcare – to enable clients to carry out prescribed rehabilitation exercises in their own time, in the comfort of the home. As Mr Chin owns a smartphone, he is open to new technology. He is also strong enough to put on the sensors on his own. Through data analytics, THC’s physiotherapist is able to keep tabs on his exercise regime remotely, further optimising his recovery. Mr Chin is able to exercise daily - through TeleRehab - as he is aware of its benefits in helping him achieve his goals.
Caption: Senior Minister of State for Health Mr Chee Hong Tat greeting Mr Chin during a home visit on 5 May 2017
“When I first used TeleRehab, I felt a little nervous. But I tell myself practice makes perfect. After several tries, I got used to it and found it easy to use. I find the exercise videos useful as I can see clearly how they should be done as I don’t think I can remember all the steps. It is also good that I can see my therapist and discuss with her through the video call function. Best of all, I can exercise as often as I want in the comfort of my home, with my therapist monitoring me closely. I wish I knew about TeleRehab earlier as I want to recover quickly. I also want to have stronger legs as I am scared of falling again,” said Mr Chin.