Sell-out crowds mark successful collaboration between physiotherapists and British Geriatric Society

The British Geriatric Society (BGS) devoted part of its 70th anniversary conference to a co-production with Agile – the CSP’s professional network for physiotherapists working with older people.


Frailty consultant physiotherapist Melody Chawner addressed the British Geriartric Society on the common problems in movement and posture

The sell-out event on 22 November focused on sarcopenia, exercise and frail older people and targeted allied health professionals and exercise professionals. It heard expert speakers from the worlds of physiotherapy, medicine and others in the field of acute management and rehabilitation.

Melody Chawner, a consultant physiotherapist for frailty at Petersfield Community Hospital, part of Southern Health NHS Trust, gave a presentation on addressing common problems in movement and posture. She said the day was a 'significant collaboration' between BGS and the physiotherapy world.

'The day heard from speakers offering guidance on providing exercise programmes for people with frailty and sarcopenia. It was significant in targeting audiences in two ways; professionals such as doctors and nurses who are not responsible for providing exercise but who may need to know how to signpost patients to services; and also physios and exercise professionals to make sure that they are updated with the latest best practice evidence on providing exercise,' she said.

Louise McGregor, who chairs Agile and is a consultant physiotherapist at St George's Hospital in south London, gave guidance and advice on offering exercise therapy to patients with cognitive impairment.

And Rachael Colclough, a clinical specialist physiotherapist at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, shared the story of a goal orientated exercise regime devised with a patient, Alan, whose COPD made walking short distances almost impossible. 'Alan achieved his goal of taking his wife Muriel to the local social club and they had a jolly nice time.'

Grip strength

Meanwhile, in the opening session epidemiologist Avan Sayer, professor of geriatric medicine at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust and Newcastle University, said latest research reveals that relative weakness of grip strength is a reliable predictor of length of hospital stay. 'Grip strength is a vital measure – probably just as important as blood pressure measurement,' she said.

While she said appropriate targeted exercise and nutrition, including omega-3 rich fatty fish, do reduce levels of frailty and sarcopenia, in the future human monoclonal stem cells, or a combination of the dietary amino-acid leucine and an ACE inhibitor commonly used to treat blood pressure, may offer other treatment options.

And Jamie McPhee, professor of musculoskeletal physiology at Manchester Metropolitan University, said that MRI scans, although more expensive and slower, and less widely available, than DEXA [dual energy X-ray absorptiometry] scans, were a more reliable and accurate method of measuring muscle mass in older patients who may be frail.

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