February 16, 2022

The ‘Big Idea’ turned clinic: Men’s Health Physiotherapy

Last year’s ‘Big Idea’ is now a new Men’s Health Physiotherapy clinic at Northern Health, opening on Wednesday, 23 February, and running out of the Epping, Bundoora and Broadmeadows campuses.

Ryan Hon, Men’s Health Physiotherapist, explained how he developed an interest in Men’s Health Physiotherapy after finding out patients were suffering in silence due to chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS) or chronic prostatitis (CP).

“Other common symptoms associated with CPPS/CP include pelvic or perineal pain; urinary, bowel and sexual dysfunction. Despite courses of antibiotic, the patients found no success in symptom resolution. Curiosity got the best of me and I looked into training options in Men’s Health Physiotherapy. This is when I discovered Men’s Health Physiotherapy training and services are widely available internationally, including countries like United Kingdom, United States, Canada and South Africa. Unfortunately, this is limited in our country,” he explained.

When the ‘Big Idea’ campaign launched in June 2021, he saw it as a great opportunity to promote and advocate for a Men’s Health service.

“I was extremely pleased to hear that I was shortlisted as one of the finalists by the Transformation Unit,” Ryan said.

The new clinic will focus on male pelvic pain, with the aim to provide appropriate care to patients diagnosed with non-organic CPPS/CP. Patients will receive a management plan following an assessment by the Men’s Health Physiotherapist and/or Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist. Referrals to other health care professionals including Sexual Health Counsellors or Health Psychologists may be recommended if patients expressed concerns round sexual and psychological health.

“Men are often embarrassed to speak about the sexual dysfunction, anxiety and depression associated with their pelvic pain. This could be due to social upbringings, where men are sometimes characterised by an emphasis on independence, masculinity and emotional restraint,” said Ryan.

“Men as young as 20 years can experience pain in their pelvic floor. I hope that the establishment of this service will encourage and empower men to seek help from health care professionals and to reduce stigma. I encourage all men to come forward if they have those kind of symptoms and we will try our best to give them the best management of care. The patient doesn’t need to live locally to be eligible to come to our clinic. Patients would be referred to our urologist by the GP, and then urologist would triage the patient for physio treatment,”  Ryan explained.

What’s new and unique about the service is that ​it provides hybrid services – musculoskeletal assessment by the Men’s Health Physio and Pelvic Floor assessment by the Pelvic Physiotherapist.

“A new public sector men’s health model of care developed in conjunction with Urologist, which I believe is the first in Victoria,” Ryan added.

Ryan has worked closely with the Urology team to implement a physiotherapist role into the existing service.

“The Transformation Unit are excited to see another ‘Big Idea’ develop. Ryan has worked tirelessly over the past six months to see his idea evolve into an expansion of the current Urology service. The support from across the organization for thinking differently about patient care has been amazing,” said Cassie Bramston, Project Manager.

“We’re looking to upskill and credential physiotherapists working in the service. Another example of Northern Health leading through innovation,” she added.

Do you have a ‘Big Idea’ you would like to turn into reality? The next round of the ‘Big Idea?’ campaign will run from Monday, February 21 to March 20, 2022. We encourage all staff to submit their ideas via Ideascale. The HRO Team will be running drop-in sessions to discuss and refine ideas, as well as workshops in creative thinking. Please see Ideascale for details.

Featured image: Ryan demonstrating a physio treatment