Getting Back to Motion – Community Focus

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“I turned to my doctor who said, ‘you needed this procedure yesterday.”

When you’re struggling with pain, reduced mobility and other bone and joint symptoms, maintaining a positive attitude is probably the last thing on your mind. After all, your quality of life seems to be deteriorating and you can’t do the same activities you used to. How are you supposed to focus on positivity when your life is upended and so many things seem to be going wrong?

This month’s community guest, Fran, understands how developing the right management strategy for your bone and joint condition can help you improve your quality of life.

A passion for activity

Being active is part of Fran’s DNA. Walking, hiking, running, biking — you name it, she loves it.  A life and love of physical activity eventually led Fran to fall for running. Somuchso, that by her late thirties she was running every day before work and even ran in multiple Kananaskis 100 Mile Relay races.

Around the age of 53, things started to change. Fran began to feel some mild discomfort in her right hip. The discomfort turned to mild pain and one day while gearing up for her run, acute, sharp pain in her hip caused her to pause mid-lace up and take a breath. She knew something was seriously wrong and went to her doctor for a check up.

The doctor’s visit and eventual X-ray through an orthopedic surgeon would later reveal that Fran’s right hip was bone-on-bone. Her running had to stop and a hip replacement was in the books — a procedure, her surgeon noted, that she needed done yesterday.

Turning a negative into a positive

Being told she could no longer run turned Fran’s life upside down. Initially, she struggled to accept her new reality and admitted to experience a period of mourning over the loss.

“I always loved being active. When I found out I couldn’t run anymore, I chose to focus on turning a negative into a positive. And after my successful hip replacement in 2001 — which helped so much with my pain and improved my mobility — I decided to get on a bike and fell in love with that sport.”  

Fran would not be deterred by her condition. To complement her medical treatment, Fran actively took the time to focus on the following strategies to help cope and heal:

  • She joined a support group so she could connect with individuals facing similar circumstances
  • She focused on staying positive and formed friendships with likeminded people
  • She focused on staying active as a way to feel more like her old self and for her overall mental wellness
  • She accepted that her condition was a part of the ageing process

“Staying positive was key for me,” said Fran. “There’s so much you can’t control with bone and joint conditions, but you can control your mindset.”

The ABJHI MAP to MOTION initiative is working to change the control factor so there IS more that patients and their medical teams can do when it comes to improving lifestyle and developing the best care plans. As a centralized hub of bone and joint health information, existing health records will be linked with new health information captured beyond clinical encounters and hospitals visits. Chronic diseases and mental health issues are on the rise and there is an information gap on patient health status in the community, in between treatments, and beyond.

Recording patient outcomes and experiences will be a vital part of MAP to MOTION that will help to inform treatment responders. With new evidence developed through MAP to MOTION, a patient and their medical team will be better informed about the specific strategies that will work best for the patient rather than working through the entire list of treatment options to find one that works.

Another aim of MAP to MOTION will be to try and pinpoint when a patient’s health status begins to change or decline. Osteoarthritis patients like Fran often go through a period at the onset of their condition before they seek out help from a care provider. This “self-management” period can sometimes last years and is an example of an area where information capture could be improved.

The bone and joint patient journey doesn’t often end with a single treatment, but is a life-long experience. Today, nearly 20 years after her hip replacement, Fran is still active. At the age of 73, she may be dealing with some back issues that have kept her off the bike, but she’s still out and about, often walking up to three times a day.

Most of all though, she recalls, “I’m grateful for our healthcare system and the support I’ve received. From day one, their focus has been on helping me keep as high a quality of life as possible, so I can stay active and happy.”