The National Osteoarthritis (OA) Strategy was unveiled at the OA Summit in Canberra today, with the aim of combatting the soaring rates of OA in Australia and providing cost effective, evidence-based solutions for the more than 2.2 million Australians living with the debilitating condition.
Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) member Matt Williams contributed to the Strategy implementation committee, and says it focuses on both preventing and treating OA by reducing obesity rates and increasing physical activity levels, ensuring non-surgical care is the first line of treatment for sufferers.
“The simplest thing we can do is the most effective to treat OA – get moving and lose weight. I’ve worked with patients who have lost as little as five to 10% of their body weight and seen great improvements in their OA symptoms, particularly their pain levels, and their motivation to continue exercising is greatly improved as a result. The more they exercise - using the right techniques, education and supervision - the better they do.”
APA National President Phil Calvert says the Strategy is a step forward in addressing the fundamental mismatch between the burden of OA in the community and its priority in federal and private health insurance funding.
“It’s great to see our physios contributing to such an important strategy, and really reflects the respected position they hold in the health community. Physios can provide bespoke exercise programs, education and motivation to support lifestyle changes that will combat a range of chronic conditions like OA.”
“I have no doubt we would see a significant decline in OA presentations if federal and private health funding provided rebates for consumers seeking this type of preventive treatment.”
“Ideally, we’ll get to a point in the future where physios can provide 100% preventive health care to patients, before chronic conditions like OA even present. It really puts consumers in the driver’s seat for their own health outcomes, and that’s good for everyone.”
Matt Williams and Phil Calvert are available for further comment or interview.
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