Sarnia, Ont., doctor hosts free online wellness series during coronavirus pandemic

Dr. Blake Pearson is hosting a Lockdown Learning Series. via Facebook

Dr. Blake Pearson’s Lockdown Learning Series launched on April 8 as a way to educate people about what actions they could take to improve their individual health and lower risk factors for the novel coronavirus.

Over a month later, the series has evolved to address changing needs in uncertain and ever-changing times.

The physician, based out of Sarnia, Ont., says viewers have tuned in from across Ontario, the United States and even as far away as Egypt.

READ MORE: Live updates — Coronavirus in Canada

“I was taking calls in our community to basically kind of triage to keep people out of the emergency room, let’s say, that maybe could have managed things from home,” Pearson explained on The Afternoon Show with Jess Brady on Global News Radio 980 CFPL on Tuesday.

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“That started with talking to patients about respiratory symptoms, but over the course of weeks, those calls that were coming in — that was supposed to kind of be more related to respiratory questions — shifted to really more anxiety-facing questions around everything that’s going on. So that’s why in the past two webisodes we’ve done, we really focused on mental health, and that was also something that I was seeing a big uptick in my clinic as well.”

An April 22 webisode from the series focused on chronic stress, while the May 6 webisode centred on coping with major life changes and relationship stressors resulting from the pandemic.

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The next episode, to be released on Wednesday, May 20, will revolve around chronic pain and musculoskeletal pain.

“A lot of physical therapists, chiropractor clinics have been closed. People who get infusions and injections to manage pain have been closed. So we’re gonna talk about some of those challenges and how people can utilize virtual services to kind of manage in the meantime,” Pearson said.

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“And also, what is really interesting is what’s it going to look like next week, the coming weeks when people can go back to their physician’s office — their chiro’s office, their physical therapist’s office and the new rules around that.”

Pearson added that the format allows for the audience to ask questions before the show, and he’s noticed “a lot of overlap” as many people bring up similar questions and worries.

“I always make a point of kind of highlighting that when we’re doing our series to show people, ‘Hey, you know, you’re not alone in this.’ There’s a lot of people with relationships that are stressed, whether it’s romantic, whether it’s family, whether it’s employer-employee,” he said.

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“But the point is, people aren’t alone. And it’s normal to have this little bit of uptick in anxiety, and that’s why we have really focused, again, on providing some resources to help.”

While the pandemic has brought concerns surrounding anxiety and stress to the forefront, Pearson acknowledged that the world has made great strides in mental health awareness over the last several years.

“Thank goodness we’ve opened up the dialogue, the conversation is free-flowing, because that’s like we need it now more than ever. This is one thing, there’s a pandemic going on, but there’s also kind of a burgeoning mental health crisis. So it’s so nice that people are able to talk about it, and we just need, there’s no doubt we need even more resources to help people out,” he said.

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Pearson also joked about a big name launching her own wellness series: Oprah Winfrey. The media mogul, in partnership with Weight Watchers, launched Oprah’s Your Life in Focus: A Vision Forward with its first episode on Saturday, May 16.

“She was a little bit behind us, I’m proud to say,” he joked. “But no doubt it just kind of highlights again how important this topic is, how valuable self-care is right now, looking after yourself during this.”

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Those interested in the Lockdown Learning Series can register on Pearson’s website. Registration for the Wednesday, May 20 webisode closes at 4 p.m. that day.

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