News / Calgary

Calgary physio clinic one of first to offer groundbreaking osteoarthritis treatment

The program originated in Denmark and in some patients, can eliminate the need for knee or hip surgery

Tim Kutash, clinic director and physiotherapist at Crowfoot Physio, assists a patient in GLA:D techniques.

JENNIFER FRIESEN / Calgary Freelance

Tim Kutash, clinic director and physiotherapist at Crowfoot Physio, assists a patient in GLA:D techniques.

An exercise program that can dramatically reduce pain caused by knee and hip arthritis is mobilizing in Alberta physiotherapy clinics.

The Good Life with osteoArthritis in Denmark (GLA:D) program was originally developed in the Scandinavian country and is mandatory for anyone with hip and knee pain there because of its effectiveness.

Only a small number of physiotherapists in Alberta are trained to offer the program, which combines education and exercises to teach participants correct muscle movement patterns to use in everyday life.

In Denmark, researchers did a one-year follow-up with patients who had participated in the GLA:D program and found on average, they had a 27 per cent reduction in pain intensity, according to the Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation.

“We look at the numbers pre-treatment and we look at the numbers post-treatment and across the board, we’re finding that people’s quality of life is better after completing the program,” said Tim Kutash, clinic director at Crowfoot Physio, one of the few places to offer GLA:D in Alberta.

GLA:D is appropriate for people experiencing knee or hip symptoms caused by osteoarthritis, even if they’re minor.

Kutash said he wants to see more physiotherapists, registered kinesiologists and chiropractors offer the treatment in Alberta and beyond. His clinic has trained several dozen physiotherapists already and they plan to continue passing the treatment on.

“We just started training the next group of people, so that means there’s a bunch of new clinics that are going to start offering the program,” Kutash said. “For the last year we’ve been working on implementing this … it’s just a matter of getting the word out that it’s effective.”

The six-week program was specifically designed to be in a group format, according to Kutash, not only to minimize the financial burden on patients but to help them stay motivated. Participants are required to attend two one-hour sessions a week.

Physiotherapist Brooke Hender took the training course last year and is helping spread the movement.

“The program in general is really good because it works on self-management and really empowers people to take control of their arthritis,” Hender said.

“We’ve had a lot of people say their pain is down, or that they can do more activities before or with less pain – the more people we can get on board to offer the program the better,” Hender said.

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