PhysioUpdate 30th March 2021

International study backs the prescription of exercise rather than drugs among people with dementia

The growing popularity of prescribing a ‘social’ activity – such as regular exercise sessions, for example – as a treatment alternative to medication has been backed by researchers focusing on dementia.

In an online, peer-reviewed paper published today by The BMJ, an international team led by Jennifer A Watt, from the Knowledge Translation Program at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, urges doctors and other clinicians to consider adopting drug-free approaches.


A woman helps her disabled grandmother take a walk (no suggestion of dementia)

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Meet a leader of the pack Rachel McLachlan, physiotherapy student and rugby international
Rachel McLachlan carries the ball towards the try line

Lining up a career in physiotherapy is enough to keep anyone on their toes, but student Rachel McLachlan manages to combine her studies with playing international rugby for Scotland.

Rachel, who is in her fourth and final year at Glasgow Caledonian University, has accumulated 16 international caps since rugby grabbed her attention after starting her degree in 2017.

In an interview on the university’s website timed to coincide with International Women’s Day earlier this month, Rachel described her fondness for contact sports – judo is another interest – and said the camaraderie that went along university rugby was an attraction.

Outflanking any stereotypes

She said: ‘There was then a partnership with West of Scotland Rugby Club, which meant I then played there. After that, I got involved with Scotland, which has just been an amazing experience.’

‘I honestly didn’t have many gender stereotypes in my head about rugby. My family have always been supportive and my brother used to do it when I was young – so it was never really a boy-girl thing.

‘Stereotypes of women in sport don’t really matter because at the end of the day they’re stereotypes – that’s all they are.’

An ‘open side flanker', Rachel welcomed the greater support being given to her chosen sport, mentioning developments in girls’ rugby and Club Rugby. See: Club Rugby

TV coverage helps promote interest
‘Even in the time I’ve played, we now have coverage from BBC Alba – which is huge. It's great for young girls to be able to see female role models on TV and online.'

Rachel added: ‘I would 100 per cent encourage people to give it a go. It’s certainly one of the most inclusive sports out there and it’s just a great environment to be a part of.'

Friends united

'I’ve met some of my best friends through rugby,' Rachel added. 'There’s a place for everyone and that’s the beauty of the game – anyone can play it.'

Another sporting connection at the university is the Sir Alex Ferguson Library, which provides spaces for social learning and study. Glasgow-born Sir Alex gained international fame as a football manager with Aberdeen, Scotland and Manchester United.

To see the original article, visit:

'Exercise can be fun', physios tell rehab patients using orthopaedic hospital's refurbished gym
Physio team Robert Fox, Michael Murphy and Lisa Perry try out the new items

Physiotherapists at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH) have welcomed the installation of new items of equipment in the gym – part of £25,000 investment at the unit in Oswestry, Shropshire.

Advanced physiotherapist Michael Murphy (pictured getting to grips with the gym equipment in the photograph) said: 'Previously at RJAH, we had a limited range of dated equipment which wasn’t fit for purpose. We have already seen so many benefits to our patients using the new equipment.

'We all know the benefits of exercise, strength and conditioning in rehabilitation, however we also understand that patients can have a fear when a therapist mentions exercise and the gym.

'With the new equipment we’re hoping to encourage all patients that exercise can not only be fun, but the best way to get us back doing the things we love like walking, running, playing with our children or socialising.'

Mr Murphy added: 'The coronavirus pandemic has truly highlighted the importance of being healthy and this equipment will help to promote health and wellbeing with all our patients.' Items include dumbbells, kettlebells, a leg press, a treadmill, spinning bikes and a squat rack.

Prominent physiotherapist at the helm

Therapy services manager Philip Hulse said: 'The whole team are delighted with the purchase of the new equipment for the therapy service – it’s really had a positive impact across the department.'
Mr Hulse, who received a Distinguished Service Award from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy in 2019, added: 'The purchase of the equipment means we can improve the outcomes of our patients; provide world class care; and carry out high quality research which will benefit the trust, orthopaedics and future patients.'

For more information, see:

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