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Physios Find Leisurely Way to Treat Patients

June 03, 2009 4:10 PM

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Physiotherapy patients are exercising their way back to health in a unique collaboration between health staff and a local council’s leisure centres.

The rehabilitation sessions involve physiotherapists from East Dunbartonshire Community Health Partnership (CHP) and their patients going to two of East Dunbartonshire Council’s gyms.

Caroline Horn, Physiotherapy Manager for the CHP, explained: “Patients who attend our clinics are recovering from various joint and muscle related problems and exercise plays an important in their treatment.

“While exercise can take place within the clinics, we are limited by the equipment and space available.

“We wanted to take suitable patients out of the medical and into the leisure environment and not only teach them specific exercises, but also increase their exercise levels.

“We ran a successful pilot last year in the Allander Leisure Centre in Milngavie and are now extending the scheme to Kirkintilloch Leisure Centre as well.

“The gym staff have been extremely supportive of both our staff and the patients.”

Patients begin their physiotherapy at the clinics and where appropriate are referred by the physiotherapists to continue their treatment at the leisure centres following individual exercise programmes. .

They are put through an induction course and the physiotherapists identify which pieces of equipment will be used.

A number have decided to take up a regular exercise regime and have become gym members.

Caroline added: “We aim to remove the barriers to physical activity and the emphasis is on what they can do rather than what they can’t do, and the patient feedback has been excellent.”

The sessions can also benefit people with complex problems, perhaps as the result of a traffic accident or are recovering from major surgery.

So far around 25 patients have attended the gym sessions but the initiative also has benefits for staff.

Airline pilot Mike Leslie (29) from Bearsden is one patient who has benefited from the scheme.

An old shinty injury began to cause him problems and following surgery he needed intensive physiotherapy afterwards.

Now back at work, Mike said: “I was referred to the Allander Sports Centre and I came on in leaps and bounds.

“I was supervised to make sure I was doing the exercises correctly and I was able to use a wider range of equipment than is available at the clinic.

“It’s certainly helped me and speeded up my recovery. I think it’s a really good project and the staff are excellent, there is always someone on hand to help you out.

“Initially I was told that I would be off work for possibly up to 12 weeks, but I’m back a good few weeks earlier than expected.”

Physiotherapist Iain Reid, who worked on the idea with former colleague Julie Cuff and Brenda Miller, one of the council’s Live Active Officers.

He said: “Exercise really facilitates a patient’s recovery and the physical activity of many patients has improved.

“From a staff point of view it’s given us the ability to broaden our focus in terms of managing patients and the wide variety of equipment increases our scope to make their rehabilitation more dynamic.

“It’s also been beneficial to link in with the leisure staff, they have been really welcoming and good with the patients.
“In the gym setting the physiotherapist can also monitor patients to make sure that their exercise technique is correct.”

Councillor Amanda Stewart, Convenor of the Connect Services Committee at East Dunbartonshire Council, said: “This project allows members of the community, who would not necessarily go to a gym, to become integrated into an exercise environment.

“We are proud that one of our Live Active Officers, Brenda Miller, came up with the original idea for this programme and it has also enabled our staff to learn more about recuperative exercise from the pysiotherapists as they share best practice.

“East Dunbartonshire Council were happy to facilitate the pilot at the Allander Leisure Centre and look forward to continuing it there while spreading it to Kirkintilloch Leisure Centre too.”

Meanwhile a separate “knee” class is held on Fridays, between 1-2pm at the Allander where patients with osteoarthritis or perhaps have had knee replacements are referred by physiotherapists for special exercises.(Note - this class is not open to the general public.)


Both the gym sessions and the classes are aimed at assisting patients to become more independent and able to self manage their condition in the longer term.

Notes to Editors:
Patients who can benefit from these classes include those with multiple fractures after road traffic accidents.

Orthopaedic patients after traumatic or planned surgery (knee reconstruction surgery, keyhole shoulder surgery and fractures).

Patients recovering from ligament sprains or muscle strains.
For more information contact NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications on 0141 201 4429.

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