In 2012 a clinical research team in Denmark designed a program, based on research, for people with hip or knee OA. GLA:D® – “Good Life with osteoArthritis: Denmark” – is a program of education and exercise designed to help reduce the symptoms of hip and/or knee osteoarthritis.
There are 12 supervised exercise sessions over 6 weeks, and 2 education sessions. Each session – education and exercise – will take about 60 minutes. These sessions are run by local physiotherapists who have been trained by GLA:D® Australia.
As well as providing the treatment framework for osteoarthritis, GLA:D® Australia collects research data from participants. This data is de-identified, which means that it can’t be used to identify participants. We ask you to complete questionnaires with information about your health and your experiences with osteoarthritis before you start, then at 3 months and again at 12 months. Your physiotherapist will also undertake some progression tests. The GLA:D® Australia team will use this information to work towards improving access to the best possible care for people with osteoarthritis
GLA:D® has been shown to help people of all ages with mild, moderate and severe osteoarthritis by reducing pain, increasing mobility and enhancing quality of life. Often surgery such as joint replacement can be avoided.
Studies in Scandinavian countries have also shown that people who have completed the GLA:D® program before having a total knee joint replacement tend to recover more quickly. Similar ‘prehab’ results have been found for total hip replacement.
There are many reasons why GLA:D® and similar exercise programs can help reduce pain and improve mobility, because exercise affects a person in a variety of ways: from improving bone and muscle strength to elevating mood. Exercise itself is a recognised treatment for some chronic health conditions and reduces the risk of many others.
The exercises done in GLA:D® target joint stability, muscle strength and confidence with movement.
The team at GLA:D® Australia provides training to physiotherapists across Australia who choose to participate. You will have an assessment with your physiotherapist and make an appropriate treatment plan. If that plan includes GLA:D®, your physiotherapist will arrange to register you to do the program, and will either provide the program to you or help you to select a GLA:D® physiotherapist. Our ‘Locations’ webpage shows you the physiotherapists who have completed the training: www.gladaustralia.com.au/Locations .
The GLA:D® education sessions are an opportunity for the physiotherapist to tell you about the latest research evidence and for you to ask questions and discuss it with the physiotherapist and other participants.
The GLA:D® exercises are a set of 10 exercises, plus warm-up and cool-down, aimed at improving the strength and function around your hips and knees. Sessions are run in small groups of around four to six people. In each session, the same exercises are done by each person at the level appropriate for them. The physiotherapists who run GLA:D® programs have been trained to customise the program to suit the individual: YOU.
Whenever you do new exercise, it’s normal and acceptable to have very mild pain during and after the session for up to 24 hours – and maybe a bit longer at first. Your physiotherapist will help you learn how to monitor your pain so that you can challenge yourself without making your pain worse in the long run.
The cost to do GLA:D® is just like doing any other physiotherapy treatment: it depends on your individual circumstances and the clinic you attend. You may be able to use private health insurance**. Eligible participants may be able to use Medicare funding to cover costs of assessments and some people may be eligible to access publicly-funded services. Clinics will differ in how they are able to offer the sessions, and what is included in the fees. If you are paying privately, it’s likely that the full program of 2 education sessions and 12 exercise sessions will cost between $400-800.
**Item code 560 ‘Group Consultation’
Your physiotherapist will make an appointment to review your goals and progress 3 months after you are registered. This usually gives enough time for you to complete the program and start exploring what to do next. You may decide to work towards getting into a gym-based program, or heading back to running, or simply finding ways to increase your level of physical activity throughout the week.
The exercises and strategies you learn in GLA:D® are also easily able to be continued by you at home. Most importantly, they are a tool for you to use whenever you feel you need to – for example, if something happens to reduce your level of activity, or if your pain increases. Some people will go back to doing their GLA:D® program after recovering from surgery.