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Physios can help identify patients with eating disorders

18 June 2015 - 1:27pm

Physiotherapists can play a vital role in identifying patients with eating disorders, according to members of the Chartered Physiotherapists in Mental Health professional network.

Physios can help identify patients with eating disorders

Physiotherapists should be aware of the rise in eating disorders

Relatively few physios specialise in eating disorders and they want to promote a wider awareness of the signs and symptoms.

Speaking on behalf of the specialist network, physio Jody Phillips told Frontline: ‘In general it is useful for physiotherapists to be aware that there is a rise in eating disorders. Often these people will present at physiotherapy first with musculoskeletal injuries.’

Signs and symptoms include

  • bodies that are too thin for their age group
  • obsessions with body image or weight
  • obsessions with food
  • unusual repetitive strain injuries or stress fractures
  • injuries that are not resolving as expected
  • obsessions with exercise (or signs of overdoing prescribed physio exercise programmes)

Physios should raise their concerns about someone who might have an undiagnosed eating disorder with his or her GP, or other appropriate healthcare professionals, adds network member Yvonne Hull. And patient consent should be obtained where appropriate.

More teenagers being admitted

The advice was issued in the wake of last month’s release of NHS figures on eating disorders. According to the BBC, the number of teenagers admitted to hospitals in the UK almost doubled in three years.

The BBC said 959 teenagers with eating disorders were admitted in 2010-11. By 2013-14, this had risen to 1,815.

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