Arthritis patients step up treatment with online classes
Health services across the country suffered because of Covid-19 pandemic, but the physiotherapy department at Our Lady's Hospital in Navan stepped up to provide an extremely successful knee arthritis programme for patients online.
In fact, the online Escape Pain Programme has proved so successful, it is hoped to continue to deliver the online option, even when the in person classes can resume again.
The programme, which involves exercises for all patients and dietary advice for those who need it, is delivered by Dr Brenda Monaghan, a Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist who is Assistant Professor in Physiotherapy at Trinity College Dublin.
The classes are delivered by Navan hospital physiotherapy department and physiotherapists Keelan O'Connor, Pauline Kacprzak and Maria Kelly deliver the classes.
The programme was started in 2019 as an exercise course and proved to be a great help with pain, stiffness and loss of function in the knee.
“It ran for a year or two but a lot of the patients with knee arthritis asked about dietary advice,” Dr Monaghan explains.
“We had no funding, but in 2019 we applied for Slainte Care funding and secured a dietitian. We were ready to go with out first group in January last year, but then with Covid-19, it couldn't go ahead.”
Keelan O'Connor explains that after a short break they decided to put together an online programme.
“It worked well. Patients saw an increase in mobility and less pain as well some weight loss.”
Each course involved twice weekly classes for six weeks, plus four additional sessions with a dietitian for those availing of that service.
Yvonne Sheridan felt the benefits of the course were amazing.
Arthritis set in after she had pulled some ligaments and before the course, she was using a stick and couldn't get upstairs.
“I was very sore and stiff, but I am a lot better now, I've got rid of the stick and I walk the dog every day.
“I'm still doing the exercises. I haven't looked back, although I still feel the odd bit of stiffness.
Kells man Barry Segrave developed arthritis in his knee from an old sports injury and is feeling the benefits of the escape pain course.
“I've a lot less pain and stiffness now,” he says.
He had been attending an orthopaedic consultant who recommended physiotherapy.
“The physiotherapist department arranged for me to take this class on Zoom.
“I had listened to a few lectures on Zoom but never did anything practical on it before this, so this was very new to me, but it was very useful.
“It was very practical and easy to follow. It was great for the period we were cocooning – it could be done indoors and can be done independently.
“While I didn't have to travel, there was personal interaction. I was able to use my own chairs and items I was familiar with. It was a practical and comfortable way to do things,” he said.
“I'd like to thank the physiotherapy team for their innovation in providing care for patients during the lockdown.
There are 400,000 knee arthritis sufferers in Ireland and 2,000 surgeries are carried out each year. A very large cohort of patients benefit from exercise and weight management.
The online courses have proved so successful, Dr Monaghan is planning to deliver both online and in person courses when all restrictions are lifted.
“A lot of the patients were really delighted to be able to do the course from their own homes without having to travel,” she said.