A focus of the CSP's Move for Health campaign is the role of physiotherapy in keeping people in work.
Here we look at how timely physio has proved crucial. James Meyrick builds multimillion-pound yachts at a boatyard in Falmouth, Cornwall. After an accident at work, he had to wait five months for an operation on his knee, and although he returned to work within a month of the operation, he could not go straight back to the physically demanding work of boat building. His enforced idleness had led to him putting on weight, but as a result of sessions with a physio in his firm’s new on-site gym, he took up not only exercises to strengthen his knee, but also exercise in general. Now he is back doing his regular job, and he’s in the gym every morning at 5am for an hour-and-a-half workout. As a result he has lost five stones in weight over the past five months. ‘I’ve still got a bit of weight to go, and a bit to get my knee back to 100 per cent, but with the physio’s help I feel much fitter now,’ James says. Senior physiotherapist at Falmouth Physiotherapy Clinic, Louise Nicholettos, who treated James, says the on-site gym helps physios to introduce a gradual return to work for patients. ‘Because we are on site we can talk to line managers and HR if we have recommendations about restrictions on people’s work,’ she says.
On the spot
An effective occupational health system, which brings a physiotherapist to her office every week, helped Carly Kellard to remain in work, and keep up her hobbies, after she developed pain in her hand. As a project assistant for Anglian Water in Peterborough, Carly, 26, is a regular user of computers. Despite the pain, she continued with her work and her hobbies of playing the saxophone and going to the gym. It was only when her hand began to swell that she visited her OH team, who referred her to the visiting physio from the private rehabilitation firm RehabWorks. He saw Carly three times before the pain in her hand disappeared and the swelling subsided. ‘As well as the sessions, he gave me exercises to do at home, showed me diagrams so I knew exactly what to do, and said I could ring him at any time if I had any questions,’ she says. ‘And he’s around in the building every week, so you just bump into him in the corridor sometimes and can ask him things.’ Staff are encouraged to see the OH team if they have pain or a health problem of any kind and the team’s phone number is advertised everywhere, Carly adds.
Postman Paul Hodges collapsed on his round when his left knee gave way. After anti-inflammatories, an operation, physiotherapy, and months on light duties he finally took to the streets with his mailbag again, only for his knee to succumb on his first day back. This time Paul, who is 55, was sent to the Royal Mail’s occupational health department, which in turn referred him to a physio in his local town of Waltham Abbey, Essex. He spent one day a week for four months working with a physio there, and eventually was able to return to delivering the post. ‘It was absolutely superb,’ he says. ‘When I first went in to see the physio I thought it was a bit much, but it really did the job. I had a few setbacks, but without the programme I wouldn’t have got back to where I was. They knew just when to up things, or to ease off, and I benefited mentally as much as physically.’ Unfortunately, Paul is now having problems with his other knee. But he and his physio are hopeful that, with treatment, he will soon be delivering the mail to the people of Waltham Abbey once again. fl
You can download copies of the CSP’s new ‘Fit for Active Work’ leaflet at www.csp.org.uk/moveforhealth
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