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MusculoskeletalJul 29, 2022

Physio's ESCAPE-pain initiative joins bid to forge links with UK fitness and leisure sectors

Prominent musculoskeletal (MSK) physiotherapist Mike Hurley is involved in a two-year research project that will investigate how to transform leisure facilities into MSK hubs that are accessible in every community.

Professor Hurley, clinical director of ESCAPE-pain, said: ‘MSK conditions are extremely prevalent and cause a great deal of pain, immobility, disability and distress. With millions of people suffering MSK conditions and huge constraints on the NHS, the only way to deliver care to people who need it, when they need it, is by delivering that care in the community.’

MSK conditions represent the third-largest area of spending by the NHS – about £5 billion annually, according to a release on the initiative on ukactive’s website (see link below). 

Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Links with community swimming pools will offer people more opportunities to exercise

Power Diary 3rd May 2022
Power Diary 3rd May 2022

New consortium

The project is being run by a new health and fitness consortium. ESCAPE-Pain (see box below) is one of five organisations taking part: the others are Good Boost, ukactive, Orthopaedic Research UK and Arthritis Action. Together they received £1.4million in funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as part of the Healthy Ageing Challenge.

Professor Hurley noted: ‘The UKRI project provides an opportunity to enhance the separate effectiveness of the ESCAPE-pain and Good Boost programmes. Delivering the programmes in leisure and community centres and digitising the programme will increase the accessibility of the programmes so that more people can live better lives and do more.’

Reducing the NHS 'burden'

More than 20 million people in the UK have an MSK-related problem, such as arthritis, chronic pain or a knee replacement. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a pool of people – most of whom are aged 50 or older – who need support to manage their condition. Many are relatively physically inactive and lack access to non-emergency healthcare appointments.

The project will test the delivery of accessible and affordable personalised services for exercise, rehabilitation, wider wellbeing support and education. It will be piloted in swimming pools and leisure centres across the UK, and at home through a virtual community support app. The aim is to reduce health inequalities and the ‘burden’ on the NHS by providing local, supported, self-management options for people to better maintain mobility, physical function and reduce pain through exercise.

Delivering the programmes in leisure and community centres and digitising the programme will increase the accessibility of the programmes so that more people can live better lives and do more [Mike Hurley]

Co-production approach

The consortium, which will be run on co-production lines, will also investigate the ‘business case’ behind delivering MSK services in leisure facilities, in order to gauge how the economy and the health of the population at large will benefit. Lessons learned from the model could be passed on to help people with other long-term health conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, to take up supported-self-management options in the future.

Ben Wilkins, Good Boost’s chief executive officer, said: ‘People living with MSK conditions experience multiple barriers to being active and moving more, such as pain, fear of injury and low motivation. Leisure centres and community swimming pools are a fantastic local resource that are available in every town, city and village throughout the nation.

‘The project is the first of its kind to use extensive co-design to look at the Place, Product and People system-based approach to create a consistent, nationwide delivery model that could play an integral role in reducing the burden on the NHS, improving health outcomes and adding to economic benefit for leisure facilities, resulting in the opportunity to support millions of older adults to enjoy healthier, happier lives with far less pain and more mobility.’

'Golden opportunity'

His counterpart at ukactive, Huw Edwards, said: ‘The projections for NHS waiting lists show that things are going to get even worse over the coming years, but the potential within this project means we could start reducing that pressure significantly over the long-term.

‘We have a golden opportunity to integrate the fitness and leisure sector into the healthcare system in every community, providing millions of people with access to expert support and incredible facilities to ease their pain through regular physical activity.’

Arthritis Action

Osteopath David Vaux, who is therapies manager and exercise lead for Arthritis Action, said: ‘The team at Arthritis Action will be sharing specialist knowledge and techniques aimed at breaking down some of the barriers to taking part in exercise that are commonly experienced by people with arthritis or long-term pain and mobility challenges.’

To read more on ukative's website, visit: See: https://www.ukactive.com/news/uk-health-pilot-to-explore-how-untapped-potential-of-leisure-facilities-could-save-millions-from-painful-msk-conditions-and-billions-for-nhs 

UK Research and Innovation is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. It was launched in 2018. For more information, visit: https://www.ukri.org

More about ESCAPE-pain

The term is short for ‘Enabling Self-management and Coping with Arthritic-Pain' (ESCAPE-pain) – a 'practical, cost-effective and sustainable intervention that is offering sufferers hope of a better quality of life through a programme of self-education and exercise'.

The intervention was devised by Mike Hurley, professor of rehabilitation sciences at Kingston University and St George's University of London. The six-week programme combines self-education and coping strategies with an individually tailored exercise regimen and helps people understand their condition, teaches them simple things they can help themselves with, and takes them through a progressive exercise programme so they learn how to cope with pain better.

For more information, visit: https://www.kingston.ac.uk/services-for-business/knowledge-exchange/escape-pain/

Author: Ian A McMillan
Power Diary 3rd May 2022
Power Diary 3rd May 2022
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