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Lyme Disease awareness

The Lyme Disease Action charity had an exhibition stand at Physiotherapy UK as we are very aware that physiotherapists are key professionals in the diagnostic patient pathway.  It is critical that all physiotherapists are aware of Lyme Disease and the signs and symptoms.  It is also critical that people who have contracted the disease from a tick bite are diagnosed and treated as soon as possible, to prevent long term problems and disability.  With the move towards more first point of contact roles it becomes even more important that a physiotherapist is able to consider a possible Lyme Disease diagnosis. For further information,  find free leaflets and posters by visiting our website.

  • Dr Rachael Pope, Trustee Lyme Disease Action

Patients are happy for physios to talk straight

The news item ‘Cardiac rehab physios need to be skilled communicators’ (Frontline 3 October) interested me, having completed a 10 week cardiac rehab programme myself less than a year ago.

I initially joined the waiting list for NHS rehab but I became aware of a reluctance from clinicians - of all specialities - to talk straight with me or to give me guidance on what to expect. I had enquired about a private rehab course and was impressed by their philosophy.  When the private course started and showed how effective and focused it would be, I turned down the NHS place which was still about four weeks away from starting.

The private team were fantastic and open. They emphasised that ‘the heart is a muscle that needs to be worked if it is to get stronger’ and made sure that I was clear on how they were judging the exercise loads based on feedback from my performance and their own experience. I firmly believe that it contributed massively to my recovery.

While the medical advice was similar in both sectors, it was all about a difference in tone. The private team’s goal was my heart getting stronger and my being able to resume a full fitness regime as soon as possible. I felt that I mattered to them.

The NHS advice was to start with gentle exercise and build up slowly. I was urged to always stay within what was felt to be a ‘safe’ limit. For me, this was almost a guarantee that I could never actually ‘recover’. I always felt it was driven by caution or fear of being sued and that the state of my fitness was less important than having another patient complete the 10 week process without damage. 

For the purposes of physical recovery from a patient’s point of view, this was hopeless, although it was the approach most touted to my fellow patients who went through NHS rehab programmes - where they were available, that is.

These completely different mind sets have a direct impact on patient expectations. Please physios – push hard and explain.

  • Steve Corkhill 

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