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Physio 14: Physio staff urged to take heed of the ‘groan test’

14 October 2014 - 10:29am

Whether you are ageing yourself or work with older patients a simple test allows you to spot when fitness levels need urgent attention, delegates heard.


Nicola Hunter

Nicola Hunter, a former chair of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Occupational Health and Ergonomics (ACPOHE), said emitting a groan when lifting or carrying something meant remedial action was required.

‘You are not allowed to groan,’ Ms Hunter reminded delegates attending a session on measuring functional capacity and fitness for work in older people.

Ms Hunter, who recently updated ACPOHE’s guidelines on functional capacity evaluations, said that most people should only start losing flexibility once they reach the age of 75. Even 80-year-olds can regain 10 per cent of their muscle mass if they follow six-week fitness programmes.

She reminded delegates that there is no official retirement age and that with a rise in the pension age, people are now working longer. Older people might need to pay off a mortgage or remain in post because they work in a profession such as engineering, where there is a lack of younger skilled employees.

Stressing that ‘work is good for you’, Ms Hunter said many physios ‘love their job’ and might not opt to retire at the earliest possible date. ‘Older workers can perform just as well as their younger counterparts.’

Ms Hunter said there is no correlation between a person’s biological and chronological age. Someone could be 40 and look 70, and vice versa.

Physios should always ask patients about their job and its demands, especially if they are on sick leave. Sickness absence costs the country £11billion and employers can, in many cases, take steps to modify people’s jobs to help them return to work, Ms Hunter said.

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