Physiotherapy and hydrotherapy: improving access and support

Muscular Dystrophy UK is campaigning to improve both physiotherapy and hydrotherapy provision across the UK for people living with muscle-wasting conditions.

Focus on Physio

Our Focus on Physio campaign is in place to ensure that all individuals and families living with muscle-wasting conditions in the UK have access to high quality physiotherapy input both at a specialist and community level within the NHS.

In 2016 we launched our Overstretched report which found that 60 percent of people with muscle-wasting conditions are unable to access appropriate physiotherapy to support them with their condition. To ensure this area is improved we are calling for:

  • All specialist neuromuscular services to ensure that their team includes a specialist physiotherapist
  • NHS England, CCGs and Hospital Trusts to work to ensure that patients with muscle-wasting conditions can have access to physiotherapy when they need it, at a clinically appropriate time to allow them maximum benefit
  • CCGs to increase provision of community physiotherapy. Community physiotherapists – linking with a specialist physiotherapist at a specialist centre – can play a crucial role in more regular management of patients at a community level
  • Hospital Trusts to work alongside the National Institute of Health Research to increase the provision of research physiotherapists to lead on clinical trials.

Next steps:

Muscular Dystrophy UK will continue to work closely with health professionals, NHS commissioners as well as individuals and families living with muscle-wasting conditions to ensure that hospital trusts are aware of their responsibilities to provide expert physiotherapy care to every single person in the UK affected by a muscle-wasting condition.

Access to Hydro

Our Access to Hydro campaign is in place to ensure that all individuals and families affected by muscle-wasting conditions in the UK are able to access an accessible hydrotherapy pool to allow them to undertake warm water exercise.

In 2015 we launched our Hydrotherapy in the UK report. The report found that over two thirds of people are unable to access a suitable hydrotherapy pool and that there are over double the amount of pools available for animals in the UK than there are for those living with muscle-wasting conditions. We are calling for:

  • Local authorities to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that their community swimming pools and changing rooms are accessible for people with muscle-wasting conditions to use
  • Everyone with a muscle-wasting condition who requires hydrotherapy is referred for a course of it, so they can learn the exercises and continue doing them on their own in community-based hydrotherapy pools
  • Schools that have hydrotherapy pools to make them available to people outside of school hours

Next steps:

Muscular Dystrophy UK is working closely with health professionals and families to ensure that the above calls are met. The charity is also regularly updating our map of services with hydrotherapy pools that are available for people with muscle-wasting conditions to ensure that everyone is aware of pools available locally to them and how to access them.

Patricia Lock from Milton Keynes who has congenital myopathy said:

Physiotherapy has been a really important part of my life and allowed me to stay fit and healthy. People with muscular dystrophy need to find the right balance between being active and not pushing themselves too far. My needs are different from lots of the other people who have physiotherapy.

For any more information about our campaigns on physiotherapy and hydrotherapy and how to get involved get in touch with Lloyd Tingley on l.tingley@musculardystrophyuk.org or on 020 7803 4804.

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