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How Optimum’s Exercise Physiologists Program for NDIS Participants

Written by Matthew Craig, Exercise Physiologist at Thornleigh. Article from December 2018

How Optimum’s Exercise Physiologists Program for NDIS Participants

exercise physiology thornleigh

What exactly is an exercise physiologist? Accredited Exercise Physiologists (AEPs) AEPs are university qualified allied health professionals equipped with the knowledge, skills and competencies to design, deliver and evaluate safe and effective exercise interventions for people with acute, sub-acute or chronic medical conditions, injuries or disabilities. So essentially exercise is medicine!

Optimum Health Solutions has really taken the time to understand the NDIS. So when it comes to the NDIS our programs focus around 3 main goals, 3 main goals that most families, support coordinators and participants of the NDIS will be familiar with as they are in every NDIS plan ever!

Goal number 1: Improving the capacity to perform activities of daily living (ADLs) or daily skills. Now, this could vary from going, shopping, to socialising, to going to work, to even waking up in the morning and brushing your teeth. Exercise physiologists enable participants to improve their ability to complete these tasks through structured exercise programs based on each individual’s required ADLs. For example, if a client works in a factory and requires the strength and endurance to lift and pack boxes all day we will work on this functional capacity by improving their lifting technique and strength to minimise the risk of injury and enable them to maintain consistent employment. Or if a client enjoys playing soccer or going bushwalking but regularly gets tired within a few minutes and has trouble keeping up with their friends or family, we will work on improving their cardiorespiratory fitness through exercise on the bike, treadmill, rower, etc and improving their lower body muscle endurance to delay the onset of fatigue, thus improving their enjoyment of the activities and quality of life.

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Goal number 2:
Maintaining/improving independence. This is particularly important for individuals with disabilities as not only does it provide you with a sense of self-care and responsibility, it also allows your carers some time to relax and tend to their other responsibilities. Improving independence also leads to improving social involvement, health, employment opportunities and the ability to live independently and potentially out of home. Ways AEPs work on improving this include:

  • Incorporating balance into all programs to minimise the risk of falls and injury leading to a further loss of independence, and ensuring clients are able to mobilise safely in the community without the need for 24/7 supervision.
  • Developing strength and motor control to allow clients to care for themselves and complete daily routines such as shopping, cleaning and personal care.
  • Building confidence in their own ability to be independent and complete sometimes daunting tasks like using transport on their own.
  • Improving functional abilities such as the sit-to-stand movement. The sit to stand movement is something we all perform hundreds of times per day whether it be getting in and out of the car, going to the toilet or attending social events, and without it constant support is needed therefore it is a major key to independence.

Goal Number 3: Improving the ability to socialise and find more social activities. We encourage all our NDIS clients, if physically possible, to come into the studio to complete their sessions. The reason being? Because this is a social environment and we have seen many of our clients improve their social capacity as well as their physical. Clients are provided with an opportunity to not only socialise with staff members (we love a chat) but also other NDIS participants. The perfect example of this is our Blacktown studio where a number of clients all work at the same job and coming in for their sessions after work allows them an opportunity to hang out and encourage each other to keep improving. In addition to this direct social link, improvements in strength, endurance, balance, mobility, fitness, health, and fine and gross motor skills opens clients up to a much wider variety of social activities and groups that they can participate in safely and confidently.

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So as you can see it’s not all about weight-loss like a lot of the NDIS plans suggest. However, this is still definitely something we work towards to improve and maintain the health our clients. In the last 2 months, one of our Thornleigh client’s lost a significant amount of weight, reduced her waist circumference and dropped a dress side improving her health and also giving her a good boost of confidence! Whilst one of our other clients recently reduced their waist circumference and waist to hip ratio by almost 10cm, which brought him down from the severe risk category for cardiovascular events such as heart attack or stroke to the moderate to high risk, and hopefully with continued treatment, the low-risk category.

As an allied health company we also work hand-in-hand with all these guys and take a multidisciplinary, and often concurrent approach to treatment to make sure we get the best outcome for our wonderful clients. If you think you or your child may benefit from exercise physiology or any of our other services for that matter, please contact OHS on (02) 8599 6275 or visit our website www.opt.net.au.

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