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Early access to physiotherapy benefits patients and can help reduce waiting lists

5 July 2005 - 9:10am

Early access to physiotherapy for chronic musculoskeletal conditions such back pain helps patients feel better and reduces the need for further treatment according to new research

Early access to physiotherapy for chronic musculoskeletal conditions such back pain helps patients feel better and reduces the need for further treatment according to new research by chartered physiotherapist Billy Fashanu and Maggie Rastall, a lecturer at the University of East London.

A randomised control trial at Southend Hospital compared patients who received a one-off physiotherapy assessment, advice and exercise session within three weeks of being referred by their GP, followed by an appointment six weeks later, with patients who waited an average of nine weeks for their first physiotherapy appointment. Patients' perceptions of pain and the extent of their problem, their overall satisfaction with the treatment they had received and their general health status were then measured. One hundred and fifteen patients completed the trial.

The results showed a significant difference between the two groups although the actual problems the patients had were similar in nature. Most patients found that the early assessment of their problems and advice about exercise not only helped them to cope better but also to feel better and they were happy to manage their problem for the first three to five weeks after this session. Only 30 per cent needed further treatment at their follow-up session.

The findings from the research project are being presented, today, at Europe's biggest physiotherapy conference, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy's Annual Congress in Birmingham.

Commenting on the significance of the results, chartered physiotherapist Billy Fashanu said:

"The huge demand for physiotherapy for patients with chronic back pain and other musculoskeletal problems is currently managed through long orthopaedic waiting lists. This leads to patient dissatisfaction and can mean that more physiotherapy sessions are needed. The findings from this research support the introduction of early one-off appointments to help patients manage their problem and to reduce the need for further treatment. This approach not only benefits individual patients but could significantly reduce waiting lists and make more effective use of physiotherapists' time."

Ends


Media only: For further information please contact Helen Richardson or Raquel Simpson on 020 7306 6616/28.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy is the professional, educational and trade union body for the country's 38,000 chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy students and assistants. Physiotherapy is Britain's fourth largest health profession after medicine, nursing and midwifery 

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