Meet the Researcher July 2021
Beyond Rehab - Esther Williamson
We all know that being active or exercising is good for our health, but it can be difficult to do regularly. As we get older, it is especially important to retain the strength in our muscles, our ability to balance and to walk about safely. Many older people are referred to physiotherapy with joint pains such as knee osteoarthritis or problems with their walking, balance or falls. Exercise will be part of their rehabilitation (rehab). The physiotherapist will provide support and encouragement to exercise regularly. This makes it easier to exercise but what happens when you finish rehab? Our research tells us that many people then struggle to continue to exercise or be active, so the benefits of rehab are not maintained. We want to explore ways to help older people to take part in regular physical activity or exercise after rehab is finished. One idea is to access social prescribing services. Social prescribing services help people access non-clinical services to improve their physical and mental health. They could support older people to take part in community-based programmes such as walking groups, exercise classes or dance programmes to reduce falls.
I am a physiotherapist, and I am working with my colleague, Dr Beth Fordham, who is a health psychologist, to develop this research study. We want to see if is possible to set up a pathway from physiotherapy rehab to social prescribing services. We then want to see if this helps older people to exercise and be active as part of their everyday lives and whether it improves their physical and mental health.