Worcester’s MP Robin Walker recently visited the University of Worcester’s City Campus and their Institute for Health and Society to see the work of the McClelland Centre in supporting activity for people living with long term neurological conditions. The visit followed a surgery appointment with a constituent suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, who asked the MP to look into their ground-breaking work so that lessons can be learned from it. He has thanked her for doing so.

During his visit Robin met with people who were living with a range of conditions from stroke, to Parkinsons to rare genetic conditions affecting their nervous systems all of whom benefited from the help of student physiotherapists and their professors overseeing them to pursue gentle exercise and activities that help to keep them mobile.

The McClelland Centre offers gym facilities, physiotherapy and nutritional support to students at the University, the general public and people who are referred to its services. It uses the services of student physiotherapists, sports scientists and nutritionists under the supervision of their professors but in particular offers an inclusive and supportive setting for the elderly and those with medical conditions. During the visit Robin was introduced to the concept of FES (Functional Electrical Stimulation) where assistive technologies using electrical stimulation can help people whose nervous system is no longer able to support their muscles to move, offering the potential that people who had been unable to walk could learn to do so again.

Robin joined in a session that started with chair based exercises and went on to speak to some of the service users whilst they used the machinery. He was impressed at the number of people who told him that the supported activity helped to keep them mobile and offered them a much better quality of life but concerned that such services were not more widely available through the NHS. Robin has asked for a meeting with South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group to discuss support for Parkinson’s patients and more widely how supported activity of this sort could help reduce hospital admissions. He is also putting in for a Westminster debate on the subject.

Commenting he said

“Inclusive activity is a good thing all round. I have already highlighted some of the brilliant work our university is doing on disability sport and employment but not everyone has the capacity to take part in competitive sport. It was brilliant to see the work going on to support those people for whom even gentle exercise can be a challenge and everyone involved relished that challenge. I know that with an ageing population and more people living with long term conditions there are greater than ever demands on our NHS, but redesigning the way in which we support people so that we can help them to stay healthy is going to be key to meeting those challenges.”

“The innovative work going on at the McClelland Centre is a real model for what works and because it is being conducted in an academic setting where the outcomes are recorded, it will provide a real evidential basis for what might work elsewhere. I am very grateful to the constituent who drew my attention to this matter and will be taking it further both with local commissioners and with a Parliamentary debate. Conditions such as Parkinson’s and Stroke can be debilitating and difficult to live with but more people than ever are living with them for longer. By learning from the good work of places like the McClelland Centre and making sure more people are aware of it, we can ensure that more of those people have a better quality of life.”

Kat Wood, neuro-physiotherapist and physiotherapy lecturer at the University of Worcester added

Notes to editors

For more information on the McClelland Centre see:

http://www.worcester.ac.uk/discover/the-mcclelland-centre.html

For the Parkinson’s UK see:

http://www.parkinsons.org.uk/

For the Stroke Association see:

https://www.stroke.org.uk/