Arthritis relief on way for poor

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 November, 2011, 12:00am


There is no cure for arthritis, but a patient's quality of life can be greatly improved by combining the right drug treatment with therapy, according to an expert in the field.

But Dr Chan Tak-hin, a rheumatologist and vice-chairman of the Arthritis and Rheumatism Foundation, says it can be very difficult for arthritis patients with low incomes to get the necessary therapy. The Hospital Authority, with its limited resources, cannot offer enough therapy sessions, Chan said. 'Well-off patients can turn to private therapists, but for those on low incomes private therapeutic service is too expensive, while the public service means enduring long waiting times and not getting enough sessions.'

To fill the service gap, the foundation plans to run physical therapy and occupational therapy sessions for low-income arthritis patients, at its new resources centre on the Nan Shan Estate, Sham Shui Po, which will open next month.

The foundation plans to run a comprehensive programme of therapeutic exercises for arthritis patients. It includes stretching, muscle conditioning, back and neck care and therapeutic Pilates. Patients can take part in occupational therapy consultations. Occupation therapists will provide assessments, advice, and prescriptions for patients suffering from chronic muscle and joint disease.

The centre is one of the beneficiaries of this year's Operation Santa Claus (OSC), the annual fund-raising appeal jointly organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK. Since its establishment in 1988, OSC has supported more than 100 charities.

This year, OSC has identified 16 Hong Kong-based charities that provide assistance to the needy in Hong Kong and on the mainland.

The centre will also provide health checks for the public. Chan expects the health checks and therapy services, which will begin early next year, to serve nearly 800 low-income patients in its first year of operation.

'Our service doesn't merely provide therapeutic exercises and therapist consultation,' he said. 'When patients meet, whether they meet at the physical therapy session or the occupation therapy ones, they share experiences, providing support for each other.

'So the services we are going to provide not only ease the patients' physical pain but also give them psychological support.'

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