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Physios need more specialist Parkinson’s training, new audit finds

The first audit of physiotherapy services for patients with Parkinson’s shows that well over half of physiotherapists are not receiving regular training updates on the disease.

While all physiotherapists in the audit said they had attended Parkinson’s-specific training, only 39 per cent did so on a regular basis.

The findings come as part of Parkinson’s UK’s National Parkinson’s audit 2011. It is the first time the audit has included therapy services, with physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy services all involved.

A total of 65 trusts took part, with 1,278 physiotherapy patients questioned.

Other findings show the average time from diagnosis to first physiotherapy referral is 3.5 years. The average time from referral to first physiotherapy assessment is almost 39 days, well within the Department of Health requirement of treatment within 18 weeks of referral.

Recording of outcome measures was also monitored. The audit found that only 77 per cent of patients’ notes recorded specific outcome measures following physiotherapy assessment, while 23 per cent did not.

Key recommendations are that physiotherapists should be educated on the differences between treatment strategies and outcome measures and all physiotherapists should use outcome measures in patients’ notes.

Fiona Lindop, specialist physio at Derby Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and physiotherapy lead for Parkinson’s UK, led the physiotherapy audit.

She said regular specialist training was essential for physiotherapists dealing with Parkinson’s patients.

‘Only a basic course is needed but there are not many available,’ she said. ‘Even with basic training we can improve care for people with Parkinson’s who really need a better standard of care throughout the UK.

‘I would really encourage physiotherapists to get involved in the next audit for 2012,’ she added.

Physiotherapy staff can register online to take part in the 2012 audit at: www.parkinsons.org.uk/audit  

The 2011 audit is available at the same link.

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