Arthritis

Arthritis refers to a group of conditions affecting the body’s joints, including the bone, muscle and surrounding soft tissues. The most common symptoms are joint pain, stiffness and reduced function, which can lead to disability and reduced quality of life. Arthritis is a common condition affecting 3.5 million Australians which is about 15 per cent of the population. Osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are the two most common types. Arthritis has no cure but its symptoms can be successfully managed with exercise, weight loss, lifestyle changes and appropriate medication. When symptoms become unmanageable joint replacement surgery can be considered.

Balance and mobility

Balance is the ability to control your body position while standing or moving. Mobility is the ability to stand up and walk in a range of environments. Both of these can deteriorate with age and certain health conditions make this deterioration worse. The good news is that a well-designed exercise program can usually improve the balance and mobility in people of any age.

Bowel and bladder health

There are many different types of problems both men and women can have with their bladder, bowels or other pelvic organs. Poor bladder or bowel control, any kind of pelvic pain, and pelvic organ prolapse are the most common problems in this area. Pelvic floor muscles may play an important part in treatment.

Fractures

To fracture or break a bone is a common injury throughout childhood and adult life, yet most of these fractures heal without problems. The rate of fracture increases with age and is greater in women than in men. The majority of fractures will be treated with a cast, splint or minimal intervention to immobilise (keep the fracture still) the fracture for comfort and to protect it while it heals. A smaller number may require a procedure to put the broken bone into the correct position so it heals correctly.

Heart health

A healthy heart is fundamental to overall health and wellbeing. Your heart sits in your chest, behind the left-lower part of your rib-cage. It is made of specialised muscle and works as a two-sided pump with valves to circulate blood through your cardiovascular system (arteries, capillaries and veins). The right side of your heart delivers blood to the lungs where oxygen is collected, and the left side of your heart delivers the oxygenated blood to your body’s organs (including the heart itself, via the coronary arteries).

Lung health

Chronic lung disease is a term for a group of long-term conditions that affect the lungs. At least one in 10 Australians has chronic lung disease. The most common conditions are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, also known as emphysema, chronic bronchitis), asthma, bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, interstitial lung disease, mesothelioma and lung cancer. These diseases are characterised by symptoms such as breathlessness and cough. Physiotherapy plays an important role in the management of lung disease by offering pulmonary rehabilitation (exercise training, education and support), education on physical activity, airway clearance and breathing exercises.

Palliative care

Palliative care describes an approach to care for those who are living with a life-limiting illness (an illness that cannot be cured), their family and carers. Palliative care does not mean you are immediately dying; rather it is defined as when treatment will no longer ‘cure’ or ‘fully heal’ your illness. Active treatment may still be undertaken to help relieve your symptoms and sometimes slow disease progression. You may be confronted by the idea of being referred to a palliative care service, however in most cases, early referral is appropriate and beneficial to improve quality of life. Palliative care is about living as well as dying, about diseases well beyond cancer, and about far more people than those just affected through disease.

Stroke recovery

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted and the nerve cells die. It can affect a number of brain functions, such as movement or speech. While the damage to the nerve cells is permanent, intensive and targeted rehabilitation can help people to recover following stroke. The most common signs of stroke are summarised by the word FAST: if someone’s Face is drooping, they can’t lift their Arm, or Speech is affected it is Time to call an ambulance. Getting them to hospital as quickly as possible for expert medical care can dramatically improve the chances of having a good recovery.