Long gone are the days when doctors prescribed rest to patients with arthritis. We all know that staying active helps prevent and reduce the effects of arthritis – but how do you prescribe exercise? And what level of exercise is safe? The Joint Movement is the answer to those questions.
Arthritis Australia reviewed the current research on arthritis and exercise to develop clear, evidence-based, practical recommendations about the role of exercise in the management of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. This review was the basis for a position paper Arthritis and exercise: the essentials.
The recommendations in Arthritis and exercise: the essentials were used to develop The Joint Movement program and associated training and information for health and exercise professionals, too. The Joint Movement group exercise sessions are suitable for anyone who has mild to moderate arthritis. People who may benefit from the exercise sessions include individuals who:
- are fearful exercise will exacerbate their arthritis
- want to learn how best to exercise with arthritis
- don’t regularly make time to exercise
- like group exercise or would like to meet others with similar conditions
- would like to improve their strength, get stronger bones and improve their mood – whether they have arthritis or not.
My role in The Joint Movement
As your patient’s doctor, you are already an essential part of The Joint Movement. You know your patient’s medical background and are best placed to refer an individual with arthritis to The Joint Movement to help them manage their arthritis. Your recommendation and advice will help them to realise that doing exercise will help alleviate their pain – even if exercise is the last thing they feel like doing.
Once someone has arthritis, it won’t go away, but having an arthritis-appropriate exercise scheme to prescribe gives you one more trick up your sleeve to help your patient stay on top of their symptoms – both physically and mentally. Our aim is to empower you with the tools to empower your patient, giving them the tools they need to feel in control again.
Before a patient can attend The Joint Movement exercise classes, they are required to first seek a referral, preferably from you, their GP. Ideally, this would be done under a General Practitioner Management Plan, to enable the patient to claim through Medicare to help them with costs. Prescription to the regime by you – someone who knows their medical background and who is a constant in their life – will mean you not only receive reports from the exercise physiologist, but will be able to encourage your patient to continue the exercises long after their prescribed plan comes to an end. The Joint Movement is as much about educating the patient as it is about getting them to a class, and our licensed leaders deliver on that principle, showing participants how to adapt the exercises for home.
What it involves for your patients
Following referral, to ensure patients get the most out of the exercise sessions, they are required to attend a pre-exercise assessment with an accredited exercise physiologist who is registered with The Joint Movement. The exercise physiologist will then guide the selection of the most appropriate group exercise option – strength training or warm water exercise classes. As the participant’s referring health professional, you will receive a report on the initial assessment findings. This report will be given to the participant and to the exercise leader, as it identifies the participants’ physical abilities, exercise guidelines, intensity and precautions.
The group exercise sessions are delivered by specially trained exercise professionals who have been licensed by Arthritis Australia to be Joint Movement leaders. Their training includes completion of a nationally accredited and industry-endorsed training course. These exercise professionals have done their training through Arthritis Australia, but operate independently of Arthritis Australia. By training exercise professionals in both corporate and community-based facilities, The Joint Movement will be accessible to a wider community.
The Joint Movement exercise sessions are run in small groups at a gym or warm water exercise facility. Participants attend two sessions a week for an initial ten weeks. The patient is then required to attend a post-program assessment with an exercise physiologist. Participants and any referring health practitioner will receive a report on the post-program assessment, and advice on further exercise recommendations. Participants will be eligible to continue participation in The Joint Movement and will also be notified of other community programs that meet their needs.
To refer a patient, download the referral form and fill it in. If you are referring your patient as part of a General Practitioner Management Plan (GPMP), you can attach this to your referral.
To find an exercise physiologist registered with the Joint Movement, use the locator app, which gives program locations and provider details for both exercise physiologists and licensed leaders.