Wheelchair Users Losing Out On Physio Treatment

Samantha Petersen, who was paralysed after a non-fault car accident in May 2015, says wheelchair users are losing out on essential physiotherapy treatment because they are struggling to get referral letters from their GPs.

After her accident, Sammi set up the S.A.M.M.I. Fund (Spinal Awareness for Mobility and Movement Independence) to raise awareness of spinal injury and to raise funds, not for her own treatment, but to support other wheelchair users in need. 

Sammi, who is from Hull, used to have to travel to Wakefield for specialist treatment.  She said:

 “For about a year now I have been undergoing physiotherapy at a private clinic in Hull and the results have been overwhelming.  I had always felt intimidated by other physios but now I feel more relaxed.  It is patient-led and exercise-led.  I have physio sessions three times a week, have acupuncture, massage and even do yoga for balance and breathing.  They have been working on my core stability and fitness and have helped to reposition my spine.  I also use an FES bike once a week to help spasms, circulation and muscle tone.  It’s made a huge difference.  It had got to the stage where I could barely sit in my chair for more than 5 minutes without excruciating pain.  Since I’ve had this treatment my muscles are much better, I’ve lost weight, it’s lifted my depression and I feel more motivated than ever.”

What Sammi has discovered, though, from other wheelchair users in the area, is that they have struggled to access this treatment via the NHS because GPs are either reluctant or simply don’t know the facilities are available locally. 

Matt Booth, Lead Physiotherapist at Flex Health in Hull, who are specialists in spinal cord injuries, MS, strokes and neurological rehabilitation, said:

 “At Flex Health, we are bridging the gap between NHS treatment and community-based rehabilitation but we’ve found that no-one is really aware that our facilities are available to their patients.

 “We aim for functional goals to allow for independence.  Because Sammi has done so well we know her muscles are there and we are reinforcing the neural pathways in her body so that her brain can relearn new muscle patterns.  She is incredibly hardworking.  With all physio there has to be an element of self motivation and she has it.  Even when she’s in pain or going through bad patches, she still turns up and refuses to let it stop her.”

Sammi is now urging general practitioners to visit the facilities at Flex Health, Newlands Science Park, Inglemire Lane, Hull, so that they can judge for themselves how life-changing their physio and complementary health sessions can be for their patients.  She continued:

“I know that doctors want the best for their patients and this is right on their doorstep.  I honestly don’t know what state I would be in if I hadn’t found them.   They’ve treated my mind and body.  Even though it’s been hard it has been a real light for me coming out of a dark tunnel.

“I have had so many other wheelchair users tell me how hard it is to get referred for treatment.  We’re willing to fund some of the treatment from the S.A.M.M.I. Fund but we really need GPs to get on board too.”

For further information, please contact Sammi on 07931 692372.  Alternatively, call Fiona Dwyer at FDPR on 07515 631299.

For further information about Flex Health, please visit www.flex-health.co.uk, call 01482 966006 or email admin@flex-health.co.uk

Sammi‘s full story can be found at www.sammisfund.co.uk

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