New Zealand physiotherapists have applauded a report that calls for early detection and intervention for the one in four New Zealanders who suffer from musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
The Fit for Work report states MSDs, such as arthritis, are the leading cause of disability in the country, draining the country’s labour market of valuable skills and costing more than $5.5 billion a year.
The report calls for a national action plan and collaborative approach to tackle the issue, which includes the early detection and referral of MSDs to physiotherapists and occupational therapists in a bid to help people return to the workforce.
“Among the working age population they (MSDs) are the second largest category of conditions resulting in sickness and invalid’s benefit payments and are thought to make up a large proportion of workers’ compensation claims,” the report states.
“Early detection of MSDs and referral to appropriate care, such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists, and preferably in partnership with the patient and their employer, will help individuals to
return to work as soon as possible and avoid work incapacity in the long term.”
Physiotherapy New Zealand president Gill Stotter said research shows physiotherapy is a cost-effective option for MSDs, working to reduce medication intake, time off work and hospital admissions.
“As physios we work to identify issues and risk factors and then
help people return to their normal activities, including working, as soon as possible,” she said.
“Our role is to educate people on what can be done to help as often we can alleviate people’s fears through education and understanding.
“The longer people are away from work the harder it is for them to return, this is why we need to offer help and support as early as possible.”
The report, commissioned by healthcare firm Abbott Laboratories and carried out by researchers at Britain’s Lancaster University, found 15.2 per cent of New Zealanders aged 15 and over were living with at least one type of arthritis in 2010.
That figure is expected to rise to 16.9 per cent, which is equivalent to 120,000 people.