By: Brandi LeCompte
The Wellness Center of Thibodaux Regional offers WellFit – an eight-week, physician-referred program that offers a customized plan for improving an individual’s health and well-being. WellFit integrates wellness into clinical care. The program began with two clinical pathways, orthopaedic and cancer. Specialists in those fields helped to shape the WellFit pathways.
The orthopaedic care pathway may help those with knee or hip pain to have better stamina and flexibility. It could possibly even delay a joint replacement surgery. “Some of the immediate results of those who have completed the eight-week program are weight loss and also an increase in their walking distance. While all participants lost some weight, three-fourths of them lost over eight pounds in the eight weeks. Half of all participants increased their walking distance by 40%,” says Education and Training Coordinator, Katie Richard, MA, BSN, RN.
Research shows that following proper nutrition and exercise has many benefits and may:
• Decrease pain
• Increase mobility, flexibility and range of motion
• Increase functional capacity
• Result in weight loss, reducing stress on the joints
• Improve your emotional health
• Potentially delay surgery
Howard Robichaux is a two-time participant in the WellFit Orthopaedic Care pathway. He first discovered a problem with his hips during therapy for his back. Near the end of his back therapy, he had so much hip pain, he could barely move. “I saw Dr. Greber for my hip pain and he said I would need hip replacement, but he wanted me to bring my BMI down from 50 to 45 to prepare for surgery,” says Robichaux.
WellFit members who need to lose weight meet with a registered dietitian for an hour-long session when they start the program and then again, every two weeks for a weigh-in and discussion on how the plan is working for the individual. “WellFit is about long-term health and wellness, so we don’t want a quick fix that goes away after a patient has completed a pathway,” says Richard.
Robichaux met with a registered dietitian who created a meal plan for him to follow. By following the plan, he was able to lose 13 pounds. “The food plan is good, I’m never hungry. There’s a lot of things I don’t like, but we were able to find enough that I do like to work it out,” he laughed.
Robichaux went to the Fitness Center twice a week and worked with two personal trainers who helped ensure that he worked out safely. “I’m only able to pick up or push 10 pounds and the trainers made sure I stayed within my limits,” says Robichaux.
All fitness specialists are certified and also have a degree in a health-related field. “They understand the science of the body and know how to modify exercises to the needs of the patient. This allows the patient to focus on their particular needs without risking injury or aggravation to their orthopaedic issues,” explains Richard. The personal trainers also have an established relationship with the orthopaedic physicians. If they require more information on a patient’s condition, they reach out to the physician for clarification to be sure they are developing an appropriate fitness plan.
“Many patients lump exercise into ‘all or nothing’, but even with orthopaedic conditions such as hip or knee pain, there are exercises that can be done and may even help their conditions,” says Richard.
Robichaux made such great progress during his first eight weeks of the orthopaedic care pathway that his doctor recommended he enter the program one more time to assist him in meeting his goals to be better prepared for surgery and recovery. WellFit can help improve the outcome of surgery by helping you to become physically stronger, thereby decreasing the recovery time and reducing the chance of complications.
Toward the end of the program, Robichaux says the hip pain eased and he was able to stop taking his pain medication. “I thoroughly enjoyed it and I think it really helped me,” says Robichaux, who is expecting to see more positive results as he begins the pathway for a second time.
“Patients are learning all the things they CAN do! They are being guided by professionals every step of the way,” says Richard.
New clinical pathways are being added for 2019:
• Functional Fitness
• Chronic Pain
• Weight/Lifestyle Management
• Mental Health
All participants have unlimited access to the Fitness Center of Thibodaux Regional during the length of the program. The plan may also include additional services such as physical therapy and behavioral health services.
Physician referral is required to participate in WellFit. Please ask your physician about WellFit or call 985.493.4765 for more information.