Cindy Lim is a Senior Physiotherapist at Woodlands Health Campus. She was part of the physiotherapy team that provided rehabilitation for Covid-19 positive patients while they were at the Singapore EXPO community care facility.

The team created videos to guide patients through exercises with minimal contact. One of these is named after a drink beloved by many Singaporeans – teh tarik (Malay for ‘pulled tea’). The arm exercises mimic the way tea connoisseurs make the smooth, creamy drink in local coffee shops.

There’s also the kampung building workout. The exercises take viewers through the steps for building a kampung, or a close-knit village, such as walking to work and laying the bricks. Both videos are available on YouTube.

The team designed posters and online videos to educate Covid-19 patients. These materials gave important tips on how to clear their own phlegm, and to lay on their stomach so their lung condition doesn’t worsen.

Besides keeping patients active, Lim and her team screened them for basic swallowing and monitored their daily activities. These are not within a physiotherapist’s usual scope of practice. Under normal circumstances, “the relevant healthcare professionals (speech therapist and occupational therapist) would be activated when specialised care is needed,” she shares. The physiotherapy team had to improvise to prevent unnecessary exposure to other health care professionals.

Like many frontliners in the pandemic, Lim’s work follows her home. She practised social distancing at home with her husband, who is also a healthcare professional. “We slept in a separate room and used separate sets of utensils and crockery,” she says.

Keeping in close touch with her family – figuratively – has helped her tide through. She communicated regularly with them through messages and video calls.

Her physiotherapist team was also a great source of strength. They were a lean group of three, but never failed to spur one another on. “We regularly reminded one another on the good work we had done to help severe Covid-19 patients regain their mobility and discharge for home.”

Healthcare may look very different in a pandemic, but a creative and supportive team can go a long way.

Illustrations by Joy Lim