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Health clinic makes clients happy

Media Release

26 September 2013

Health clinic makes clients happy

In the space of twelve months, over 400 local people with serious health conditions have improved their lifestyle with the assistance and expertise of UCOL’s specialist Exercise Physiology Centre, U-Kinetics Te Huinga Waiora.

UCOL staff and health industry partners heard about the dramatic improvement the U-Kinetics Clinic has made to peoples’ lives, as well as its impressive early research results while celebrating the Clinic’s first birthday on Friday. U-Kinetics clients spoke of how good they were feeling and, in some cases, had experienced a reduction in weight and medication.

Significant physical and mental health improvements were shown by all 150 clients of
U-Kinetics who, as at June this year, had fully completed a 12 week programme and health and fitness retest after referral from MidCentral DHB.

Supervised and specific exercise programmes for clients with cardiac, respiratory or diabetic medical conditions or injuries are prepared by graduates working towards UCOL’s Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Exercise Physiology under the guidance of trained senior professionals who oversee all the activity at the Clinic.

UCOL Associate Professor Health Science Lukas Dreyer says that many clients have multiple health issues and need help to overcome their fears about how to exercise safely. “We provide a very safe environment and test everyone before, during and after they exercise. As well as an increase in overall physical fitness, all clients’ resting heart rates and blood pressure rates had seen positive changes.

“The results also show that all clients are able to handle at least 30% more exercise workload on average; in other words, they could handle more pedalling weight on an exercise bike.”

Dr Dreyer says the heart of the client-focused results, however, is in the self-assessment part of the retest.

“All clients showed big improvements in each self-assessment health measure, including physical function, vitality, social functioning, and mental health. This part of the test reflects how the client feels after their programme.”

On average, clients’ overall physical health score as recorded in the self-assessment retest had improved by 12% and their mental health score by 9%.

“Some people have told staff they felt they were at the end of the road before coming to U-Kinetics, and after their programme they could see a light at the end of the tunnel,” Dr Dreyer says. “Clients report that following the programme they feel they have more control over managing their medical conditions.”

He says the students in the centre have to make lots of decisions every minute they are working with clients.

“They learn how to think and operate on the Clinic floor. For example, higher risk dyspnoea (breathlessness) clients might experience symptoms from only the tiniest changes in exercise, while other clients might have a cardiac condition but also be pre-diabetic, with both needing to be accounted for in the exercise prescription.”

Students are supervised by UCOL Clinical Exercise Physiologists, which provides a safe and meaningful learning experience for the students, where they are helping to change people’s lives.

Students also work with TBI Health physiotherapists in the clinic, supporting exercise rehabilitation for clients with musculo-skeletal injuries or conditions.

Some of the one-year-on success stories from the U-Kinetics centre include diabetic clients learning to better control their glucose levels and either decreasing or coming off insulin altogether, clients losing up to 20kg, and clients being able to cycle for 20 minutes non-stop after starting at being just able to do intervals of one minute on, one minute off.

Exercise testing results clearly reflect this improvement, with clients on average having a 36% increase in exercise workload and a 21% increase in physical fitness (VO2max) following their 12 week exercise programmes.

UCOL and Health Workforce New Zealand support the establishment of the Clinical Exercise Physiologist role as an important development in the New Zealand health workforce.

Notes to reporters:

The U-Kinetics centre is currently funded by MidCentral DHB for around 400 clients a year. From 1 May 2012 to 30 June 2013, 427 clients were referred by MidCentral DHB to the centre (258 males, 169 females).

The role of a Clinical Exercise Physiologist involves specialising in the delivery of exercise, lifestyle education and behaviour modification programmes for the prevention, management and rehabilitation of chronic conditions, diseases and injuries for people from every walk of life. The pathway to this career involves successfully completing UCOL’s one year Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Exercise Physiology. Enrolments are being taken now for 2014.

UCOL is putting in place a six-month bridging course for people with a health degree (such as nursing) and background who want to pursue the Postgraduate Diploma.


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