Rachel Young is a Specialist Neurological Physiotherapist and Associate Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University.

Rachel has developed a specialist interest in exercise and physical activity for people with complex, long term conditions. She is passionate about the integration of effective exercise prescription within healthcare and played a key role in embedding fitness industry qualification within the physiotherapy curriculum at Sheffield Hallam University. Rachel is studying for a PhD which is focussed upon the use of accessible, power assisted exercise in sub- acute stroke rehabilitation.

Rachel has been collaborating with Shapemaster in advisory role and has helped develop a suite of resources enabling existing centres and their staff to understand more around various long term health conditions and how power assisted exercise can play a vital role.

In this extract from ‘A Guide to Power Assisted Exercise for People Living with Fibromyalgia’, Rachel outlines the condition as well details useful screening and monitoring tools.

Fibromyalgia is long term condition which effects between 2-4% of the general population. It is seven times more common amongst women and usually occurs between the ages of 30 and 50 years. The condition is difficult to identify and people with fibromyalgia may have multiple investigations and consultations over several years before receiving their diagnosis. Key symptoms include pain, fatigue and impaired sleeping patterns. Living with fibromyalgia can have a big impact upon quality of life and psycho-social health. Most people report fluctuating symptoms and approximately 25% of people with fibromyalgia will experience remission.

 

SCREENING AND MONITORING PEOPLE WITH FIBROMYALGIA

Many of the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia are not visible so talking to clients to gain an understanding of how they are feeling is important. You may include the following questions during screening and review of people with fibromyalgia:

  • How do you feel in general?
  • What are your current symptoms?
  • How are your sleep patterns?
  • Which time of day do you typically feel better?
  • Do you take any medication and if so, do you experience side effects?
  • How do you find activity and movement affects your symptoms?

When observing people with fibromyalgia take note of their posture, speed and fluidity of movement. If the service includes functional measures such as repeated sit to stand or walking speed then record baseline data as improvement in the quality and speed of movement associated with power assisted exercise is likely to occur.

 

PROGRAMME PLAN

An individualised programme is important, clients should gradually become accustomed to the activity before increasing the intensity of effort. Ensure a warm up period during the first 5-10 minutes of each workout, during which the rated effort should be approximately 3/10. Once adjusted, the effort may be increased to four or five out of ten which means becoming slightly breathless but still able to speak in sentences.

Focus upon achieving a good posture and breathing control throughout the workout. The final 5-10 minutes of the workout should be at a low intensity to ensure a completed cool down. People with fibromyalgia will usually feel more comfortable in a warm environment.

People with moderate or severe symptoms may choose to work passively in the first few weeks; in other words, they will allow the machines to move them without actively generating any muscular or aerobic effort.

WHICH MACHINES AND HOW SHOULD THEY BE USED?

Shapemaster machines offer a safe, non-threatening and adaptable exercise experience, an excellent option for the fibromyalgia population. The Powertone range enable activity from a fully supported position and enable relaxation integrated with movement. The Easytone range will stimulate improved recruitment of the core muscle groups; this is positive for back and neck pain associated with fibromyalgia.

For further information on using power assisted exercise with people living with Fibromyalgia, please download our Resource Guide Here