Friday, November 7, 2008

Therapy Gym For Patients Goes From Strength To Strength

“Members of a unique ‘therapy’ gymnasium in London’s East End have been celebrating with a ‘gymboree’ their first year after winning a battle to stop it closing. Ability Bow faced a cash crisis 12 months ago which threatened to shut down the whole operation. But a campaign started by the East London Advertiser brought in the Big Guns such as controversial MP George Galloway which mobilized support. Many London GPs and physiotherapists referred patients to the gym. It was important to the NHS to keep it going—and a cash rescue operation was mounted through Tower Hamlets Primary Care Trust. Its team of five have been helping 232 patients get through their paces at the sessions held at St Paul’s church hall off the Roman Road. Many referred patients who had never taken part in exercise before would not have otherwise got the opportunity at training with professional equipment helped by professional assistants. ‘Ability Bow is not your average gym,’ explained one member, Tim Rushby-Smith. ‘There are no preening, steroidal young men and the staff aren’t busy preening themselves or looking bored.’ ‘I was referred to the gym by the neurophysio team at my hospital. Those working in the gym deal with people who are exercising as part of a long-term recovery programme or to reduce long-term health risks.’ The weekday sessions make them achieve their potential and raise their self-confidence and independence. Another ‘recovering’ member, Nicola Morris, who was referred by her physiotherapist, said: ‘Some people might think a gym would be a bit ‘pumping iron’—but it’s so not like that. ‘It makes it easier to use a walking frame or my wheelchair—I am much stronger now, particularly in my upper body.’ Now the gym goes from strength to strength, like the patients referred there by GPs. It is now planning to expand—boasting with some justification at being a ‘centre of excellence’ and a leader in the field.”

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