You might have seen some sunny Spanish pictures over on our facebook page recently, as both myself and Irwin were lucky enough to attend the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) annual conference in sunny Madrid last week.
For me, it was my first time at EULAR and to be honest I was blown away by the sheer size of the conference. Over 14,000 delegates attended, and there were 100's of different presentations given over the 3.5 days.
I'm not a Rheumatologist, so a few of you might wonder what an exercise professional would get out of attending such a meeting?
In short, the answer is plenty!
Here are my European nuggets of wisdom..
Maintaining regular employment with rheumatic disease can be a big challenge for some patients.
I guess this shouldn't have come as a surprise, but the data presented was powerful. Did you know that in Europe, musculoskeletal and rheumatic diseases are the biggest cause of sick leave and premature retirement?
An important reminder for all us health professionals to consider that there are numerous ways a chronic disease might impact our patients. It's not good enough to settle for surface level improvements. We really need to remain guided by our clients and help them lead and maintain the sorts of work, hobbies and exercises that are important and meaningful to THEM. How we perceive our own health is very much related to how we can participate in the activities we choose.
Adherence is still very much a challenge.
Did you know that 30-70% of clients don't follow the medication/treatment advice by their doctor? Again, perhaps not surprising but it really made me think of how effective we all need to be in tailoring our advice and recommendations to the person in front of us. No matter how good the evidence for certain treatments get, we need to consider the beliefs, potential bias and previous experiences of each individual client. Although I feel our team does this well, we can always strive to be better in order to really help our clients achieve great health!
Exercise.. more than a wonder drug!
I was obviously excited to see exercise given some great air time at the conference. Although no real surprises, was great to see that the evidence for exercise in the context of rheumatic disease continues to be strong. RA, Fibromyalgia and Psoriatic Arthritis were just a few of the conditions where exercise was shown to be able to have considerable positive impact. There was also some research presented looking at exercise and its ability to impact sleep and fatigue, which we know affects many of our patents with the results being positive thus far.
A holistic sense of care is still the way to go, and the future is bright!
It was great to see a number of talks discussing the role of diet, exercise and a range of other treatments in the management of rheumatic conditions. The evidence continues to look favourably on using these strategies alongside medical management for many rheumatic diseases. We know that following an Anti-Inflammatory diet for example can not only can help control total body weight, but can also reduce risk of several other health conditions and reduce inflammation. It was great to see the conference provide such a mix of sessions, and really sent a strong message that our clients deserve to understand all the options that are available to them in order to help them achieve the best health possible!
Overall, a great conference and fabulous experience. I was definitely inspired and a great reminder that we at BJC need to keep pushing the boundaries in how we deliver great health care services to our patients.