Mater's back stability clinic helps patients with pioneering technology

This Spine Health Awareness month, we spoke to Stephen Erceg, Physiotherapy Team Leader, about the work carried out to help patients with back pain at Mater’s Back Stability Research Clinic.

Mater’s Back Stability Clinic commenced operation more than 20 years ago and now sees patients with a range of musculoskeletal conditions but has a focus on chronic recurrent low back pain presentations.

The spinal research clinic provides evidence-based assessments and treatments including individualised exercise programs which utilise the motor control approach.    

“Our approach centres on developing a collaboration between the physiotherapist and the patient whereby the patient is self-coaching under our guidance. In line with current clinical guidelines for the management of chronic low back pain, the clinic advocates self-management strategies with regards to development of appropriate exercise programs for people with this condition.” Stephen said

“All of our team have post-graduate qualifications and are highly experienced musculoskeletal physiotherapists.  We work with patients to help them to improve their muscle control using formal exercise prescription.  Once this is achieved, the program can be progressed to apply the learned motor skill to solve the patient’s functional performance issues, which can be quite individual in nature.”

Professor Julie Hides is the Clinical Lead of the Back Stability Clinic. She conducted clinical trials at the Mater whereby she pioneered new technology to aid assessment of back and abdominal muscles and delivery of individualised exercise treatments.

“Julie undertakes ongoing clinical research and has led the way in developing the use of ultrasound imaging to assess, treat and train spinal muscles. Real-time ultrasound imaging allows patients to observe how well their back muscles are contracting during training in different functional positions. Combining doing, seeing and feeling muscle contractions provides a feedback rich experience that optimises patient learning and recovery. We can also monitor exercise induced improvements in muscle size over time.” Stephen said.

“Our ongoing clinical research ensures that we remain at the forefront in delivering effective, durable care for patients suffering chronic recurrent low back pain. Our recent publication provides a detailed explanation:” 

To learn more about Professor Julie Hides work, please listen to this podcast

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