IFOMPT conference: Physios need to develop strategies for getting patients active

Physiotherapists are being urged to promote physical activity to their patients in an attempt to improve the health of individuals and of populations.


Leading physiotherapists from the UK, Canada and Australia led a symposium at the IFOMPT (International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapists) conference in Glasgow, suggesting strategies for getting patients active.

Debra Shirley, a senior lecturer in physiotherapy at the University of Sydney, said that physical activity was known to improve health. ‘We have a role to help people to do it, safely, and without injury. If it [physical activity] were a pill, after you got people to take it, we’d be on a healthier planet. But it’s not as easy as taking a pill, and that’s the challenge we have in getting people to be more active.’

While population-level health strategies and policies are effective, one-to-one interventions in primary care are valuable in promoting physical activity, she said.

She urged physiotherapists to make this part of the discussion with patients, and even to set aside time to talk about goals and how to achieve them.

Elizabeth Dean, adjunct professor in physical therapy at The University of British Columbia, said that sedentary behaviour was an independent risk, even if people took part in physical activity. She urged physiotherapists to promote the value of even micro-burst of exercise, such as taking a short walk every hour.

Ann Moore, professor of physiotherapy at the University of Brighton, called for tailored interventions, education, advice and ensuring full understanding between health professionals and patients.

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