Expensive ultrasound machines are languishing in treatment rooms because staff lack the skills to use them, claims physio Chris Myers. Robert Millett meets him
Physiotherapist Chris Myers is keen to make a big noise about the diagnostic benefits of ultrasound.
Not only is he qualified as a musculoskeletal (MSK) sonographer, but he also uses ultrasound on a daily basis in his own practice, diagnosing injury and carrying out guided injections.
Indeed, Mr Myers says he’s so passionate about championing the correct use of ultrasound that he’s set up a course to spread knowledge among physios and other interested professionals.
‘I know there are many diagnostic ultrasound machines sitting in departments collecting dust, and I want to encourage physios to go and brush them off and start scanning.’
‘Ultrasound has transformed my practice and I feel physiotherapists should take the opportunity to expand their skills and improve patient outcomes and satisfaction.’
Mr Myers qualified as a physiotherapist in 2000 from the University of the West of England, Bristol, and gained a masters degree in sports and exercise medicine at Queen Mary, University of London.
But his involvement with diagnostic ultrasound started five years ago when he was working in an extended scope physiotherapist (ESP) team.
‘I started to realise the potential of ultrasound as an extension of my assessment skills, as well as the cost savings that could be made from reducing the need of magnetic resonance imaging scans, and early, accurate diagnosis,’ explains Mr Myers.
‘And patient satisfaction levels were also very high because it could be carried out in the initial consultation.’
In pursuit of further knowledge Mr Myers went on to complete a post-graduate certificate course in MSK sonography at Canterbury Christ Church University.
Now he works as an ESP at the English Institute of Sport and in private practice in London, where he uses ultrasound to diagnose muscle, ligament, tendon, joint and nerve problems and to guide joint and soft tissue injections for pain relief.
Mr Myers says that ultrasound machines are becoming much more portable and prices are also coming down, making them far more accessible to most physios. But he warns that a lack of specialist training often means that the technology’s full potential fails to be exploited.
‘There is currently no competency framework for physiotherapists using diagnostic ultrasound, despite the associated medico-legal responsibilities that come with the use of imaging,’ says Mr Myers.
‘Diagnostic ultrasound is an operator-dependent modality and as such it takes a long time to become proficient.’
Competence with the technology is such an important factor that Mr Myers was prompted to set up the London Ultrasound Group as part of the Sports Medicine Ultrasound Group, so that participants could have the opportunity to understand and develop the application of ultrasound skills.
The nine-month course is now in its third year and has proved highly popular.
The group meets every month and spends each session focusing on a different body part, under close supervision and with the benefit of expert guidance.
Monthly topics include knees, hips, shoulders, wrist and hands, and the use of ultrasound-guided injections.
Mr Myers says students on the latest course are making excellent progress and are being invited to join study groups run by those who completed the course in previous years. fl
Further information is available from Mr Myers. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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