Undergraduate Physiotherapists at Sheffield Hallam University use Interdisciplinary Exercise Medicine Resources

By Anna Lowe

In 2014 Exercise Works! (an organisation that promotes the prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases) made huge steps forward to enhance the exercise-related content of medical undergraduate curricula. The project “Training tomorrow’s doctors, in exercise medicine, for tomorrow’s patients” (Tomorrow’s Doctors), funded by Public Health England, led to the development of exercise medicine and chronic disease resources for all UK undergraduate medical degrees.

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Following on from the success of “Tomorrow’s Doctors”, these resources have been revised and made available for all undergraduate nursing, midwifery and Allied Health Professions courses internationally.

At Sheffield Hallam University we have approximately 300 undergraduate physiotherapy students and we are delighted to be using the resources to support our training of “Tomorrow’s Physiotherapists”.  Our physiotherapy approaches must evolve to keep up with a changing and growing population.  Exercise medicine is a core part of our undergraduate curriculum, in view of the rise of long-term conditions and the ageing population, the need for exercise prescription skills is greater than ever before.  The resources are a selection of PowerPoint presentations on subjects ranging from “Mental Health & Exercise” to “Physical Activity Leadership”.  We will evaluate staff and student perspectives and promote the resources to other health courses within the University.

Sheffield has a rich history of physical activity and it has recently claimed the title of The Outdoor City.  It borders the Peak District and benefits from an abundance of green space and beautiful landscape; something that brings many students to the city and keeps them here long after their studies finish.  With the help of Olympic Legacy projects such as Move More (a city-wide physical activity strategy) and the National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine the physical activity infrastructure continues to grow and physical activity is becoming firmly embedded in the personality of the city.

Despite this, Sheffield is a city of contrast with large geographic variations in health and disability. Contemporary health education requires a deep understanding of the wider determinants of health, particularly in relation to health behaviours.  Every patient contact is an opportunity to impact, not only on the presenting complaint, but also on overall health & wellbeing.  A physiotherapist may see up to half a million patients in their career, many of these patients will have long-term conditions and will therefore be at risk of disability and early death.  As a profession we must ensure that we keep exercise at the heart of everything we do and that no opportunity is wasted!

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Anna Lowe is a Senior Lecturer in Physiotherapy at Sheffield Hallam University

@annalowephysio a.lowe@shu.ac.uk

Ann B Gates is founder of Exercise Works!

@exerciseworks  ann@exercise-works.org

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