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Early treatment improves results: Musculoskeletal forum with David Brentnall

Physiotherapy within 48 hours of an injury occurring dramatically increases patient recovery.

That was one of the key messages from Axis Specialist Musculoskeletal Therapist David Brentnall, who spoke at a management of musculoskeletal injuries forum.

David highlighted that:

  • Early intervention is key
  • Good practice needs a team of people with a consistent message
  • Predictors of poor outcomes are psychosocial rather than being physical
  • Unnecessary early investigations are not helpful and are associated with poorer outcomes.

He said studies have shown that early intervention significantly decreased chronic pain and reduced the time away from work.

“Those seen within the first three days had a 2% chance of having persistent symptoms after 12 weeks. When seen after seven days it's much higher – 15% went on to have chronic pain at 12 weeks. Early physiotherapy is good – it's active rehabilitation, not just symptom relief.”

It's acknowledged that some mine sites have challenges with early access to treatment which may mean a reduced chance of recovery, but David indicated there are some tools available to assist employers in regional or remote areas.

David said combined manual physiotherapy and exercise together give better short term pain relief compared with either being done alone, and he highlighted the benefits of returning to work.

“There's clear evidence that early return to work on suitable duties is part of a good acute injury management. Ideally the worker would remain at work,” he said.

He added that early contact with the health professional and the workplace results in better outcome. “Early return to work is the beginning and end of things. If you're able to achieve this then lots of other things are going right,” he said.

Dr Rob McCartney, an occupational physician, and Bronwen Otto, an occupational health physiotherapist also presented to the 40 mining industry employers.

The forum was jointly hosted by WorkCover Queensland, the Queensland Mining Health Improvement and Awareness Committee (HIAC) and the Department of Natural Resources and Mines.

A recording of David's presentation can be viewed here.

You can also read a transcript (PDF, 0.23 MB) of the video.

Find out more:

Mining industry

Getting back to work

Creating safe work