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Leading leisure management operator Parkwood Leisure, in partnership with Legacy Leisure, Lex Leisure and 1 Life, has launched Musculoskeletal rehabilitation programmes across 30 leisure centres in England and Wales.

According to recent statistics[1]over 20 million people [roughly a third of the UK population] live with a musculoskeletal [MSK] condition with the NHS currently spending £5 billion on treatments for these conditions every year. Recognising this, Parkwood Leisure has introduced an initiative to integrate community MSK rehabilitation programmes into leisure facilities.

Parkwood Leisure in collaboration with Good Boost, ukactive,Orthopaedic Research UK, ESCAPE-pain, and Arthritis Action aims to grow the role of leisure centres, pools, and gyms as ‘MSK health hubs’ following a successful strategic two-year research project.

The initiative has resulted in the creation of 30 MSK hubs, which have achieved TAS (The Active Standard) Accreditation, ensuring the highest standards in musculoskeletal care. With 1,170 individuals already registered and 1,885 referrals received, the impact is already being felt within the local communities. The sessions are open to anyone with an MSK condition, providing valuable information on active living, pain management, and information on suitable available activities at the leisure centre.

The project has already generated an estimated £400,000 in social value. Two-thirds of participants have already reported that their wellbeing has ‘improved’ up to their MSK condition being ‘no longer a problem’ as a result of accessing their local MSK Hub. Pain reduction has been reported across each patient specific complaint following the Goodboost sessions, demonstrating the positive impact on both individuals and the wider community.

Parkwood Leisure is committed to expanding the MSK hub initiative to create a network of accessible community hubs. 250 staff have completed MSK related training, with 30 staff identified as MSK coordinators across the MSK Hubs.

MSK Hubs incorporate Goodboost rehabilitation and prehabilitation sessions, weekly social MSK sessions in the cafes as well as online nutrition courses to support people with MSK conditions. Parkwood Leisure continues to shape services based on the needs of the local community, supporting the development of local MSK ‘Lived Experience Groups’.

A survey carried out found that 55% of respondents found their MSK condition has affected their working life, 22% have been out of work for over 10 days in the last 12 months because of their MSK condition and 6% suggest their MSK condition has affected their ability to find work.

The MSK hubs are essential in reducing physical pain, improving mental wellbeing and reducing economic inactivity due to MSK conditions.

Managing Director of Parkwood Leisure, Glen Hall, said: “I couldn’t believe the statistics on how many people live with a musculoskeletal condition, so Parkwood Leisure is honoured to lead an initiative that transforms leisure centres into vital community hubs. This MSK project reflects our commitment to inclusivity and creating a positive impact on the lives of individuals in local communities. We believe in fostering, not just physical health, but also a sense of community, making leisure centres truly accessible to all.”

This new initiative goes beyond addressing the physical health needs of individuals with MSK conditions; seeking to tackle the mental health side of the conditions too, the MSK social sessions within the leisure centre cafes have contributed towards an improved sense of community and support among participants.

Hannah Gilday, Head of Healthy Communities & Partnerships at Parkwood Leisure,has said, “It has been a pleasure to witness the success of our MSK hubs in transforming lives and fostering an improved wellbeing among local communities.”

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