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Program a helpful tool in osteoarthritis self-management

Osteoarthritis in the hips and knees can cause significant pain and make it difficult to continue enjoying the activities you love to do.

As a physiotherapist, I have seen a lot of people struggle with continuing to be active after the onset of osteoarthritis-related symptoms. Often, the pain causes people to instinctively decrease their activity level, which typically worsens their symptoms.

In truth, one of the best things you can do to manage your symptoms of osteoarthritis is to remain physically active.

The key to having success with exercise in the management of osteoarthritis is knowledge. Knowing what to do, when to do it and how to do it empowers people to have better control of their symptoms. This is the beauty of the GLA:D program (Good Life with osteoArthritis in Denmark).

It’s a neuromuscular exercise and education program that was developed based on more than 50 research studies that support exercise and education for symptom management in hip and knee osteoarthritis.

Participants in the GLA:D program have a physiotherapy assessment to determine their baseline strength and movement patterns and then complete an individualized exercise program in a group fitness class for 12 sessions.

They also attend two education sessions to learn about osteoarthritis and best practices for self-management.

Since its inception in 2012, more than 18,000 Danish participants have gone through the program and have seen great results. In addition to an average 27 per cent decrease in pain intensity, participants also showed improved strength, walking speed and quality of life.

Many participants were able to decrease their pain medications and some even chose to delay joint replacement surgery due to the improvement in their symptoms.

Recently, GLA:D Canada released the findings from the first group of Canadian participants in 2016-17 with very similar results. In Nova Scotia, approximately 29 per cent of adults aged 45 to 64 years are diagnosed with arthritis. For adults aged 65 and older, that number rises to 53 per cent. The majority of these cases are osteoarthritis.

Nova Scotians can now access the GLA:D program as one of the options to help ensure they maintain the highest quality of life possible, despite the diagnosis of osteoarthritis.

In April 2018, many health-care providers attended the GLA:D program instructor certification course in Halifax. It will likely be available in a number of locations in the coming months.

Zoomers Physiotherapy and Health Solutions was excited to be the first clinic in Nova Scotia to offer the GLA:D program. The first session started in September 2018 and we plan to continue offering this beneficial program in the months and years to come.

Read this article on The Chronicle Herald website.

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