When people are diagnosed with a hypermobility-related condition, they are often catapulted into the world of medicine and allied health. The trouble is, having had no previous experience with these professions, people are often quite unsure about who does what and where to turn for the help they need.
Lets run through some of the most common allied health professions that may be part of your team.
Physiotherapists work with people on the physical functioning and physical body maintenance. Physiotherapists are often the people we go to when we have sprains, strains, subluxations, dislocations or general wear & tear issues that need rehabilitation to help us get back to full functioning. Physiotherapists (also called Physical Therapists in the US) can either have a hands-on (massage, releasing, trigger point releases etc) or hands-off rehab approach to helping someone with hypermobility, or a combination of both modes.
Occupational Therapists (OTs) are interested in helping clients regain function after an injury or operation, or helping them to compensate for loss of functions using adaptive strategies, assistive devices and aids. OT is aimed at helping the individual client achieve their goals, whether that be with employment, relationships, home life, caring for children or volunteering. Whatever it is you want to do, OT’s will try to help you make it possible.
Psychologists play an extremely important role in the life of someone with hypermobility. Their role can be two fold: pain management and talk therapy. Often people living with hypermobility related conditions have chronic pain and have to learn to live with this every day. Psychologists can teach helpful pain management strategies to help with this. They are also beneficial as someone to talk to about coping with a chronic health condition. Living with a hypermobility condition can be stressful, emotionally challenging and somewhat depressing. Psychologists are able to be a neutral person who can listen to how you’re feeling and may be able to give feedback or provide strategies for alternative ways to cope.
Exercises physiologists (EPs) work with clients one-to-one or in groups to help them carry out physical exericse programs. For people living with hypermobility, it is highly recommended that the program is designed either by an EP knowledgeable about hypermobility or by your physiotherapist.
Osteopathy / Chiropractic
Having never seen either an Osteo or a Chiro, I find it difficult to speak directly about their role in the team. However, I have had patients who have seen a n Osteo or Chiro instead of a physiotherapist… and I have had others who have been seeing both a physio and an Osteo. If you’re an Osteo or Chiro & you’re reading this, feel free to comment below on what you believe your role would be in the health care team of a person living with a hypermobility related condition.
As you can see, this is just a short list of 5 allied health professions who might be involved in a healthcare team for someone with hypermobility. The list isn’t exhaustive by any means, however these appear to be the most commonly encountered allied health professions. This list doesn’t even touch on all the medical specialists that people see, from orthopaedic surgeons, neurologists, and gastroenterologists to psychiatrists, ophthalmologists and endocrinologists. It’s not uncommon for people to have between 1 and 10 people on their healthcare team, depending on individual symptoms and needs (or even more!).
We are going to explore some of these further in our group in the coming weeks. Not a member of the group yet? Join us here!
How many health professionals are on your team? Who’s your go-to person when things go wrong?
Michelle is a Senior Occupational Therapist working solely with adults with hypermobility and related conditions. Michelle is the owner of Hypermobility Connect, an online platform for people with hypermobility to connect with resources, health professionals & each other. Michelle practices OT in her private practice and provides education to health professionals relating to hypermobility conditions.