Why it is important to schedule physiotherapy checkup on a regular basis

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Lamech Bogonko talks to a patient about pain management.Photo:Ernest Mwanzi

By Ernest Mwanzi and Dr. Tasneem Yamani

Physiotherapy is a science-based profession and takes a ‘whole person’ approach to health and wellbeing, which includes the patient’s general lifestyle. It helps in reducing or eliminating pain through therapeutic exercises and manual therapy techniques such as joint and soft tissue mobilization or treatments such as ultrasound, taping or electrical stimulation. As a result, it helps to eliminate pain or heal from an injury.

Physiotherapists use their knowledge and skills to improve a range of conditions associated with different systems of the body, such as neurological (stroke, multiple sclerosis, parkinson’s), neuromusculoskeletal (back pain, whiplash associated disorder, sports injuries, arthritis), cardiovascular (chronic heart disease, rehabilitation after heart attack) and respiratory (asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis).

Patients who experience joint related pain such as having trouble standing, walking or moving, regardless of age can benefit immensely from physical therapy through stretching and strengthening exercises that help restore mobility. Physiotherapy is also used to help recover from stroke, assist in diabetes management. It’s very common to lose some degree of function and movement after stroke and physical therapy helps to strengthen weakened parts of the body and improve gait and balance. Physical therapists can also improve patients’ ability to transfer and move around in bed so that they can be more independent around the home, and reduce the burden of daily care.

Physiotherapy has known benefits that can be incorporated as part of management of diabetes to effectively control blood sugar. Additionally, people with diabetes may have problems with sensation in their legs and therapy can help provide and educate patients on proper foot care to prevent further injuries.
For women with concerns, such as with pregnancy and post-partum care, physiotherapists can provide specialized treatment for bowel incontinence, breast cancer, constipation, fibromyalgia, lymphedema, pelvic pain, and urinary incontinence.

Other specialized needs for physiotherapy include improper and poor posture especially at the work place due to prolonged use of a computer keyboard and/or mouse which can lead to frequent muscle aches and nerve pain. To relieve pressure on the lower back, patients are advised to use a chair with back support and keep their feet supported on the floor or on a footrest. It is also advised to maintain elbows at 100 to 110 degrees when working in order to keep a relaxed position at the keyboard. This could require a slight negative tilt (front of keyboard higher than back) when working in upright positions.

To manage poor posture, it’s advised to always take breaks away from the desk and include stretches for optimal results. If possible, take a one or two-minute break every 15 to 20 minutes, or a five-minute break every hour. Every few hours, get up, move around, and do an alternative activity. Aerobic exercise helps to sustain strength, improve cardiovascular conditioning, and counteract the strain of sedentary computer use.

It is for these reasons that the University Health Center organized a Physiotherapy Camp to assist employees on issues related to activity induced pain and back pain among others. The Health Center contracted the services of Lamech Bogonko who is an experienced Clinician with 8 years’ experience as a physiotherapist and is the team physiotherapist for the Kenya national rugby sevens team.

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