Conditions such as Osteoarthritis are placing a huge burden within healthcare systems. The effect this has on a person’s mobility leads to things like increased social isolation and poor quality of life.
The prevalence continues to increase but cost and constraints regarding resources can limit in person access to physiotherapy. As a result, digital solutions are emerging as a solution so that individuals can receive the care they need to prevent conditions like osteoarthritis.
Due to the nature of age-related conditions, it is important to take action to prevent the condition getting more severe. As certain conditions do get gradually worse over time, being unable to identify them early and self-manage effectively can result in more pain and impact general activities of daily living. A further complication of this is the less we move, joints become less mobile, leading to increased pain/discomfort.
Often patients can place too much expectation on operations to be the cure of some conditions however this may not always be the case, so engaging in effective physiotherapy and self-management can be key for prevention.
The research for prevention of conditions such as osteoarthritis tells us that initially patients should make sensible lifestyle changes, even before more well known methods like exercise. For example, making positive changes to a diet can help obese individuals lose weight and reduce the likelihood of suffering from age related joint changes earlier in their life. We should then look to adjust the weight bearing on joints and this could be achieved by reducing heavy lifting activities, for example.
Choosing the right exercise method is also key to preventing joint complications. Avoiding intense accelerated sports such as running is one way an individual may achieve this. The final aspect is making sensible choices to change behaviour which could help prevent early age related changes. An example of this could be women choosing to wear flat shoes instead of heels as they provide more support to the joints.
Treating patients to prevent further complications or re injury is a very important part of our service. One of the key aspects of this is ensuring regular follow ups with patients. The digital and remote nature of our service allows us to achieve this with ease. For example, patients are able to communicate through the re.flex app where they can expect quick response from a medical professional. This helps to reassure the patient of any uncertainties they may have straight away, allowing them to proceed with recovery.
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In order to prevent conditions becoming worse we also place a particular focus on the patient’s goals and expectations. During every contact with the patient, we attempt to relate their recovery to their end goal, improving engagement with treatment plans. We place an emphasis on educating our patients about their condition to provide reassurance during rehabilitation.