This article was originally published in the October 2016 edition of inmotion.
Rise Health Group’s approach to exercise rehabilitation is impressive to say the least. Based in Rowville, Melbourne, Stuart Canavan’s practice, established in 2000, boasts an extensive multidisciplinary team comprising physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, exercise scientists, dieticians, podiatrists, myotherapists and a sports medicine physician.
‘I view exercise as the future of our profession and the future of medicine in many respects. We are going to have to be collaborative in our approach, moving forward with other evidence based professions, particularly with the exercise science community and the exercise physiology community,’ Stuart says. ‘At Rise, we’ve tried to take a very strong strategic step into that exercise space to make exercise a key feature of what we’re about.’
As well as catering to the general public, over the past six years, Rise Health Group has practised in partnership with the Rowville Sports Academy, at Rowville Secondary College, to provide complete physiotherapy and exercise science services to about 700 student athletes. The fitness, training and high-performance facility is located a short drive from the practice headquarters.
‘This has allowed us to significantly develop the scope of our exercise services. We now have a physical space that allows us to deliver a complete spectrum of exercise services; everything from exercise associated with injury management all the way to high-performance programs for elite athletes,’ Stuart says. ‘It’s quite a significant point of difference for us…we have considerable experience in the area of long-term junior athlete development and advanced rehabilitation protocols, particularly in the ACL space where we are incorporating high-performance testing and programming into rehabilitation design.’
The practice’s holistic approach to patient care stems from Stuart’s professional experience abroad about 20 years ago— aged 23, he was tasked with establishing a practice in Kentucky, United States. During this time, Stuart witnessed his American counterparts’ heavy emphasis on a multidisciplinary approach to exercise rehabilitation.
‘At that time, Australia was very much focused on manual therapy, and US-based clinicians were forging ahead with respect to functional exercise and advanced exercise programs,’ he says. ‘It gave us insight into where our profession was going.’
Once back in Australia, Stuart established a community focused physiotherapy practice to provide a patient-centred, multidisciplinary and strong exercise-focused offering to his clients.
'For us to continue to move forward, we have to recognise that we lack expertise, in certain areas, compared to other professions.'
‘We could see there was a need to expand beyond physiotherapy care and incorporate a multidisciplinary approach very quickly, but also moving towards the development of exercise and functional restoration programs in rehabilitation.’
The practice was initially named ‘Rowville Physiotherapy’, but just over a year ago Stuart made the decision to rebrand the practice. Rise Health Group, he notes, is a more adequate reflection of the evolution of his practice over the last 14 years and where it stands today.
‘The scope of our practice had developed to the point where we were no longer just doing physiotherapy, and we were no longer just doing sports medicine services, such as podiatry and myotherapy,’ Stuart says. ‘The practice is far beyond just solely a physiotherapy practice.’
Another component to the practice’s holistic approach is an emphasis on diet. The practice has an in-house dietetics team available to assist patients with a variety of diet-based and nutrition strategies, from diabetes to weight-loss programs.
It has also worked with the Victorian government as a provider for the Life! program, managing patients at risk of preventable diseases. Such activity further underscores the importance Stuart places on an interprofessional approach to patient care and the role that digestive health has in well-being.
‘It would be remiss of our profession to think we have all the answers when it comes to dealing with the diabetes problem that we’re confronted with in Western society,’ Stuart says. ‘For us to continue to move forward, we have to recognise that we lack expertise, in certain areas, compared to other professions.’
And Stuart’s tip for other practice principals wanting to incorporate a more holistic approach into their business? Don’t be afraid to be different.
‘There’s so much opportunity in Australia to focus your practice on a complete holistic manner, and that’s where we need to focus our attention in healthcare,’ he says.
‘The pendulum needs to swing back towards preventing and reversing where our society now finds itself with respect to declining activity levels and issues that relate to diabetes, obesity, musculoskeletal dysfunction and poor nutritional habits.
‘Humans have complex integrated systems. I feel collaborative research, clinical reasoning and treatment approaches moving forward need to reflect that philosophy. I would encourage all physiotherapists to take a broad view to what constitutes well-being and the place that physiotherapists can fill in assisting all people across the course of their life.’