A specialist clinic in Bournville supporting people with muscular dystrophy is celebrating its first anniversary.
The clinic is run by Coventry-based charity MD Support Centre and provides vital therapy to help people maintain their health, mobility and independence.
Based at Bournville Gardens Retirement Village, it offers neuro-physiotherapy and a supportive community where patients and carers are guaranteed a warm welcome.
Senior Physiotherapist Dan Foley said: “The beauty of the Charity is that we never discharge a patient. Our service users have peace of mind that we’re always here for them and the satellite clinic at Bournville is enabling us to reach out to more people.
“We’ve had great feedback about the team and our knowledge base because it is rare to have a service which is solely focussed on neuro-muscular conditions, and we also try to support carers and family as well, so it’s a very personal service.”
A coffee morning was held at the clinic to celebrate its first anniversary at Bournville, which saw service users attending in person and also able to take part virtually using an online link.
Therapy sessions take place on Monday, Tuesday, Friday and alternate Saturdays, with around 25 people a week benefiting, and up to 40 service users in total and counting. The clinic originally ran twice a week but has expanded since opening to keep up with growing demand from GP and hospital referrals.
MD Support Centre is one of just two organisations nationwide providing long-term, regular physical therapies to support adults with incurable muscle-wasting conditions to live well.
Among those who attend the Bournville clinic is Emma Hackett, aged 40, a GP surgery administrator from Great Barr, who credits the physio sessions with enabling her to keep walking and working.
Born with Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT), Emma was only diagnosed around six years ago when doctors were finally able to join-the-dots between the various symptoms she was experiencing.
For Emma these include chronic fatigue, scoliosis and weakened muscles causing balance and mobility difficulties. Referred by a consultant at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital to the West Midlands Rehabilitation Centre in Selly Oak, and from there to MD Support Centre, Emma said the therapies provided by the Charity have been transformational.
She said: “I needed more specialist hands-on physiotherapy which includes manipulation of the muscles. It was a seven month wait for a place with MD Support Centre but it’s really helped me from there onwards.
“With conditions like CMT and MD, it varies from person to person how quickly progression can happen: I’ve had symptoms my whole life but they started getting much worse in my 30s. The physios at the Bournville clinic are empathetic and really understand because they have such a lot of expertise in what they do. I do feel that if it wasn’t for MD Support Centre, my decline would have been a lot worse, and quicker. I can’t stop the progression happening but their therapy sessions give me some stability and a way of trying to keep things on a plateau.”
In January, Emma underwent surgery for seven procedures simultaneously to loosen tendons and re-shape bones in her leg, ankle and foot, alongside having metalwork removed from previous surgery on her other foot. She said: “After my operation I was stuck in bed and really down and the team at MD Support Centre sent me a lovely get well card and messaged to check how I was, they really do care. I was in a wheelchair for quite a while, and I don’t think I’d even be on my feet at all if it wasn’t for Dan and the team at Bournville because they helped me to get walking again.”
Emma first started attending MD Support Centre sessions at the Coventry headquarters three years ago and still visits now and again, particularly for osteopathy, but the Bournville satellite clinic has made the Charity’s support much more accessible for Emma and her mum, who drives her to appointments.
Currently on a waiting list for further surgery, Emma added: “MD Support Centre deserve so much recognition for what they do. From reception through to the physios, everyone is so friendly and they really get what you’re going through. It’s so nice to have such a supportive team. I don’t know where I’d be without them and that’s coming from the heart, because I literally wouldn’t have managed at all. They’ve just been amazing.”