Dr. Winston’s Insights

Patients come to Royal Jubilee (RJH) and Victoria General (VGH) hospitals for many different reasons. Some are in need of surgery. Others have suffered a stroke. Some like Peter have had a traumatic, life-altering accident. Many require medical imagingmore than half of the encounters we clinicians have with patients at VGH do. 

In the Rehabilitation Clinic at VGH, ultrasounds are essential in almost all cases. They give us clear, detailed pictures. They’re our modern stethoscopes. Our high-tech compasses. By using sound waves to produce high-quality diagnostic images, they improve our understanding of a patient’s internal organs, tissues, and vessels. We can see under the skin in real time.

Ultrasounds help us do our best work. They improve diagnosis. They change lives. 

In rehabilitating patients, they are key to our work. The Big Picture will support the purchase of a new ultrasound machine in our department, one that has become instrumental in making strides in areas like spasticity. It means we can give our patients their lives back.

Spasticity is a neurological condition that causes muscles to contract constantly — imagine your arm or leg being retracted into itself. It affects patients living with a stroke, cerebral palsy, or multiple sclerosis. It can be very painful. More often than not, it robs people of the use of their arms or legs, severely affecting movement and quality of life.

We treat spasticity in many ways, including injections that relax muscles and improve range of motion. We use ultrasounds to guide needles into a patient’s muscles. To inject the right dose in the right place, without having to poke too many times. The ultrasound improves results and minimizes pain for our patients.

We’ve put a highly specialized team together here at VGH, one dedicated to improving nerve techniques and guided by ultrasound technology. It includes specialized plastic surgeon Dr. Emily Krauss who can transfer active nerves into areas of the patient’s body that they can’t move, and interventional anesthesiologist Dr. Daniel Vincent. A collaboration like this in Victoria has never existed before. In fact, as far as we know, we’re the only dedicated team for our innovative spasticity procedures in North America. In a novel treatment called cryoneurotomy, Dr. Vincent can freeze nerves to relax contracted muscles, or Dr. Krauss can cut the nerve and lengthen muscles and tendons. Sometimes, a patient will see restored motion in minutes. It’s miraculous.

Treatments like these make a real difference for someone like Peter. And those in our community like him. It’s highly rewarding to know our community supports this work. We simply can’t do it without you.

Donors like you help us perfect our techniques. Right now, you can fund a new ultrasound. You can ease someone’s pain. Help them move again. Lift their grandchild. Feed themselves.

In Peter’s case, these techniques were fundamental. He’s made great progress in how he activates his muscles. I am so proud of him for his hard work.

Together with the Victoria Hospitals Foundation, I am asking for your help to do more for people in our community like Peter. Please consider supporting The Big Picture and the purchase of a new ultrasound for our Rehabilitation Clinic. You can, and you will, redefine lives.

—Dr. Paul Winston
Medical Director of Rehabilitation and Transitions, Island Health