Supporting Healthy Aging in People Living With Chronic Disease
In Canada, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is considered a chronic disease. With current anti-viral therapies, people can live longer with the disease—but they can also experience a variety of health- and age-related challenges or disabilities. While we know rehabilitation can help reduce disability, more research is needed to come up with strategies that can respond to the unpredictable nature of this chronic illness.
Dr. Kelly O’Brien, Canada Research Chair in Episodic Disability and Rehabilitation, is applying her expertise in physical therapy and clinical epidemiology to find ways to improve rehabilitation programs, practice and policy—and improve health outcomes for people living with HIV and other chronic illnesses.
Specifically, O’Brien and her research team are using a novel approach to describe disability, one that factors in the uncertain nature of chronic illness. This will help us understand the prevalence and determinants of episodic disability among people living with HIV. O’Brien and her team are also exploring the effectiveness of the first-known community-based exercise program designed to address or prevent disability in people with HIV. This program provides “real-world” strategies that can be accessed and used outside of formal care.
Ultimately, O’Brien’s research program will provide health care providers, community organizations and policy-makers with vital information to support and enhance the healthy aging of people living with HIV. This knowledge can also be used to help people living with other chronic diseases in Canada and around the world.