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One Step Too Far

In our last article we commented on the way in which exercise regimes have moved on; with the emphasis now being on providing exercise and mobility training which not only suits individual pursuits but also the individual athlete. With the Rugby World Cup being very much in evidence at the moment, it’s a theme which we thought we would return to.

Aside from the numerous injuries which seem to have befallen the Welsh team, opening skirmishes have led to injury worries for numerous players. Some will be rested before being brought back into the fray later on in the campaign whilst for others their World Cup dream is already at an end.

The neutral observer may question why there are so many injuries when it comes to the big tournaments. Admittedly rugby is a game which begets injuries but it has to be asked whether there is an underlying reason for so many key players to become injured at the same time. Again the neutral observer may wonder whether it is simply that in rugby injuries are rife, but we only hear about them thanks to the increased publicity which world cups bring.

But there has to be more to it than that and whilst some injuries are simply down to the run of the game or bad luck, it has to be wondered whether others may be as a result of a desire to field the best team possible. This can lead to circumstances such as players who are carrying a minor injury being selected in the hope that they will be fit in time for the tournament, players ignoring slight niggles as they don’t want to miss out on the tournament, or even a bit of overtraining in a bid to be as ready as possible for a key match.

Whatever the reason, players who entered the tournament in hope are leaving it in pain; being forced to swap the field of glory for the physiotherapy table. As they depart they bring a lesson for all of us. It’s one thing to push yourself to the limits of your ability but take one step too far, be unrealistic in your expectations, and you will run the risk of harm.  We all like to think we can cope under pressure, we all like to think that we can just do one bit more and one bit more again but even those at the top of their game have their limitations.

In other words, sooner or later we will reach the limits of our abilities and when that happens we have to call on others for help. And that is not an admission of failure; it is simply an acknowledgement that when we are open to calling others on to our team, we can stretch just that bit further and do just that bit more.

For injured players, it will be the help of physiotherapists and other health and fitness professionals. For those same health professionals, it may be the help of administrators or assistants in areas such as booking and keeping track of appointments, maintaining virtual client records or simply in answering the telephone to avoid interruptions to client treatments.

Sportsperson or not, sooner or later we all come up against our limits. Getting the right help at the right time might just prevent us taking one step too far.

Medal-Winning Physiotherapy

The 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games got off to a flying start with a flurry of medals on day one for the host nation.  But whilst all eyes are on the athletes themselves as they strive for victory, it can be easy to forget those who work hard behind the scenes to make the Games a success.

From cleaners to ticket collectors and from chefs to medical staff, those who volunteer or work at the games are on the front line when it comes to building Glasgow’s reputation.  For these games the medical team is headed by physiotherapist Liz Mendl.  Liz is in charge of some 1,400 volunteers including 400 physiotherapists.

Building on her experience of previous Commonwealth and Olympic events, Liz has introduced two innovations for these games.  The first is to head up each medical room with a ‘lead physiotherapist’ who is responsible for running the room and ensuring that those in need of help swiftly receive the appropriate treatment from the right member of the multidisciplinary team.  The second innovation is to instil ‘first contact’ physios at training venues to provide instant help for those who don’t have access to a team physio.

On their website the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) highlights some of the many physiotherapists who have volunteered to help at the games.  Browsing through the summaries provided by the volunteers it is hard not to get an overwhelming feeling of the dedication and commitment which physiotherapists give on a daily basis.  Volunteer Emma Knott comments that “there is much more to physiotherapy than the magic sponge!” perhaps summing up best the challenge faced by the profession in helping people to truly understand the role which physiotherapists can play in keeping people fit and healthy. Yes, some may be called upon to deliver remedial treatment following one-off injuries; but physiotherapists also work with people in order to mitigate life-limiting conditions or even to help individuals to stay supple, preventing injuries from occurring in the first instance.

Measures, such as those introduced by Liz at the games, can only help to improve the public perception of the role of physiotherapy within the health profession. But this in turn may bring fresh challenges to the profession. Once physiotherapists are seen as front-line first-contact health professionals rather than ‘when everything else has been tried’ last resorts the profession is going to become even busier.  When time is at a premium the last thing that should be affected is patient treatment.  After all, when you have spend years training to bring your skills to benefit others, the last thing you want to do is to see valuable time spent on routine administration. Time saving measures such as online booking, diary management, electronic patient records and appointment reminders can all help to reduce time spent on administration, thereby maximising patient treatment times.

If the remainder of the games match up to the excitement on Day 1, then we are in for a feast of sport.  Let’s hope that the medical team aren’t kept too busy and can enjoy some of the events which they have given up their time to support.

Holiday Blues

Once upon a time we just went on holiday and everything we did when we were away was part of the holiday experience. Nowadays it seems as though spontaneity is out the window as we have to have a clear idea before we go and our every intention is scrutinised in detail by those responsible for booking and insuring the trip.

Completing a holiday insurance form recently, a colleague was struck by the number of exclusions and ‘do you intend to..’ questions. They felt that having to think up and list activities in advance killed the joy and anticipation of being able to relax and just ‘go with the flow.’

Admittedly activities such as base jumping and volcano boarding are not in the usual run of chill-out holiday activities. But an activity such as ‘walking on a mountainside for more than an hour’ is hardly a dangerous pursuit, particularly if you are visiting areas of Switzerland or Austria where it is hard to avoid strolling on gentle slopes.

Of course, the insurance strictures do have a basis in fact as some activities are more likely to result in injury than others, particularly when combined with a relaxing glass of your favourite holiday tipple. In fact, statistics from the FCO last year revealed that of the 19,000 people who asked for help whilst abroad, just over 3,500 had been hospitalised. But whether or not hospital treatment is required there are still a fair number of people who do need further help when they return to this country. From broken limbs to strains and misaligned joints; the chances are that those working as chiropractors, physiotherapists and osteopaths are likely to be called upon this summer to treat those holiday injuries.

When the call comes, it is good to be able to respond at once; but this is not always possible, particularly if answering the call means pausing an existing treatment session. That’s where a virtual assistant service comes in handy. Calls can be switched seamlessly to the service with callers being greeted as if from the health practice itself.

Not only does this mean that your potential clients receive a swift and positive response right from the start, it also helps to ensure that your appointment book is kept as fully up-to-date as possible. And of course, if you don’t have to interrupt a treatment session in order to answer the phone, using a virtual assistant service also enables you to provide a first class service to those who attend treatment sessions.

Additional benefits of using a virtual assistant service include the ability to take card details at the time of booking, thus helping to smooth out cash flow and reducing on administration time. Pre-authorised card payment also enable health practices to take a no-show fee in accordance with their published criteria, should a patient fail to attend an appointment. Add in an appointment reminder service, and the chances of missed appointments are considerably reduced.

With appointment booking and card deposits taken care of the health practice can concentrate on what it does best, treating those in need.  If your clients are going away this summer, encourage them to think carefully about how they answer the holiday insurance questionnaire. But if the worst comes to pass at least, thanks to some virtual assistance, you may well have time to treat them on their return.

Optimising Sporting Performances with help from your dentist

What does it take to help an elite athlete to stay at the top of their game?  Good nutrition, a balanced training regime, access to the best physiotherapists and osteopaths?  Well if a recent (April 2014) conference in London is anything to go by the need for good oral hygiene and a trip to the dentist should be added to the list.

In September 2013 a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine revealed low levels of oral health among London 2012 athletes, with 40% being bothered by oral health problems and 18% reporting that dental problems impacted on training and performance.  The study was carried out on a cross-section of athletes competing at the games.

Now the oral health and performance in sport conference in London has backed up those findings with a series of discussions and presentations on the impact of oral hygiene on sporting performances.  Whilst good dental hygiene won’t turn a novice into an elite athlete, for those at the pinnacle of sport where the slightest edge can make the difference between Olympic Gold and also-ran, it seems as though dental hygiene is a contributing factor.  And the effect is not just confined to those who seek to be ‘the fastest’.  The British boxing team have already noticed a difference since regular dental checks were introduced as part of the training regime.

But good dental hygiene is not just for athletes.  Type 2 diabetes and heart problems have also been linked to poor oral health, making a visit to the dentist a potentially life-saving activity.  Plaque can lead to gum inflammation and studies have shown that inflammation anywhere in the body, including in mouth and gums, can have a detrimental effect on arterial health.  So studies have concluded that regular brushing and attention to oral hygiene including trips to the dentist can help to protect heart health.

But as the British boxing team managers found, a visit to the dentist is not on many people’s priority list.  It is important therefore to ensure that making appointments and contact with the dental surgery is made as easy as possible.   Systems such as online booking and automated appointment reminders can make a huge difference to attendance rates.

Whilst a nagging toothache is a strong enough reminder that something needs to be done, without pain our impulses to make a check up appointment are fleeting at best.   Being able to log in via PC or smart phone and book on the spot enhances the chances of capturing that fleeting idea.  And for surgeries which operate a ‘book your next appointment now’ system for those who do visit, an automated appointment reminder will help to decrease no-shows from those who forget the appointment that they made six months ago.

Talking about the boxing experience, Dr Mike Loosemore said of the enforced dental checkups: “They may not appreciate it now, but hopefully they’ll appreciate when they’ve got a gold medal round their neck in Rio.” For non-athletes the reward may well be a lessening of the chances of heart or diabetes problems in later life.

Treating the Olympic legacy

When the UK team were bidding to host the Olympic Games, one of the arguments which swayed the decision makers was the importance placed on legacy. Press coverage of this aspect of the games emphasised the legacy implications of regenerating part of London with a secondary mission of improving sporting facilities in other areas of the UK.

However, for many legacy was a lip service addition to the games themselves. Not any more. The impact of the Olympics has seen an explosion of interest in sports across the UK. Clubs have seen a massive surge in enquiries from all ages and our streets are filling up with cyclists and joggers.

Admittedly this surge in interest has been partly helped by websites such as the “things to do*” and “join in local sport**” sites which have made it easier for those interested in local sport to find out what is on in their area. However, the sites are only being successful because of the interest in sport which our Olympic success has generated.

So, with sports clubs across the land putting on taster session and extra courses, some of which are filing up almost as soon as they are announced, and with joggers and cyclists taking to our streets in numbers it is inevitable that sooner or later there will be an increased call for those who treat sporting injuries. No matter how careful a sports club is, no matter how well regulated the training; injuries are a side effect of physical activity.

This means that physiotherapists and osteopaths, chiropractors and massagers may well be seeing an increase in requests for treatment. Taking advantage of this increased demand requires the ability to maximise treatment times and minimise other administration functions. This is where a virtual receptionist service comes in handy. While practitioners are concentrating in providing treatment, the virtual receptionist can arrange appointments, answer calls, send out invoices and manage patient records.

With all the long term benefits which sport and exercise brings we hope that the Olympic legacy will last for many years to come. Helping to treat those who have stumbled along the way, getting them back on the pathway to success is the task of physiotherapists and others. Taking the administrative strain, well that is the job of the Clinic Appointments team.


Contact us today to discover how Clinic Appointments can help your clinic. Book your free demo call now to learn more.