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A weighty problem
In my career of more than 35 years I have only ever met one physiotherapist who smoked. On my physio course I was taught the dangers of smoking. On the wards I saw the effects of smoking. The dangers were known, but not accepted, by the public. But we physios ‘got it’. We needed to give the ‘stop smoking’ message to patients and patients had to hear us. Over time other health professions, the government and the public caught up.
We now have another major health threat that we have an important role in tackling. As physiotherapists we understand the effects of obesity on health, government recognises the problem and the CSP tells us that we should be getting the message across. I think talking about weight directly to a patient is far harder than trying to persuade them to quit smoking. Weight affects how we see ourselves and how others see us. It is a sensitive and emotional subject and one I feel quite uncomfortable even writing about. Although I raise the importance of a healthy weight regularly with my overweight patients, it is never without careful choice of time and words.
Just as I knew that my smoking cessation message would not be authentic if I had the habit, I think that as a profession, we need to take the same approach to being overweight. When our patients look at us they need to see that we are the profession that takes being a healthy weight seriously.
So now I want to ask you a difficult question: are you advising your patients on the importance of a normal weight with the equivalent of the smell of tobacco on your breath and the packet of cigarettes in your pocket?
- Beverley Myers
The ‘five lovely ladies’ referred to in the letter ‘Bad hair day’, 5 July are physiotherapy students who found time to volunteer on a Saturday morning to promote public awareness of potentially significant cuts to NHS services, including physiotherapy. They attended independently, not representing the university; hence they wore CSP- branded polo shirts instead of uniforms. On clinical placement they are always professionally attired and their hair is tied appropriately. I am privileged to teach students who show such dedication to the profession.
- Gordon Smith, senior physiotherapy lecturer, University of Worcester
Aiming for the 90s
It was so interesting reading about our pioneers in the 1 June issue (90 not out, page 24). It was an excellent issue all round and good to read of Sheila Ferres and the clinic she set up in South Africa.
I had much the same calling as she had, and as a South African of British descent, I can assure you that physiotherapy, as well as medical care of every kind, was available to all races at the state hospitals.
I trained in the Cape at Groote Schuur, where the pioneering surgeon Professor Barnard did his first heart transplant, while I was a student in 1967.
We worked in wards and clinics, albeit with the races separate, where the same care was given regardless of colour. At another hospital I recall a black prisoner, found guilty of murder, yet given needed open heart surgery.
On graduating, I pioneered physiotherapy at a mission hospital where dozens of children were treated after being badly burned, adults too at times.
In 1996 I was recruited to set up NHS community services in Cambridge, something I was familiar with in South Africa. I hope to continue until I reach my 90s – albeit working as a private physiotherapist.
- Margaret Coles
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