Guest: Dr. Belinda Beck
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Dr. Belinda Beck is an Associate Professor in the School of Allied Health Sciences at Griffith University, Gold Coast campus where she teaches musculoskeletal anatomy and conducts bone research. Beck graduated from The University of Queensland with a degree in Human Movement Studies (Education) and from the University of Oregon (Eugene, Oregon, USA) with a Master of Science (Sports Medicine) and a PhD (Exercise Physiology). She completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in the Stanford University School of Medicine (California).
Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, Dr. Belinda Beck joins us to talk about The Bone Clinic which will open in July 1 2015 in Brisbane, Queensland. Together with Lisa Weis, they founded the Bone Clinic which specialises in new and innovative bone health practices with a particular focus on osteoporosis prevention and treatment, tackling the task of reducing the estimated 6.2 million Australians who are expected to be diagnosed with the disease in the next ten years. The Bone Clinic provides her with the opportunity to translate 25 years of research findings into real life solutions for people with conditions affecting bone health.
Health Professional Radio
Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Wayne Bucklar and this morning my guest is Professor Belinda Beck of The Bone Clinic. Now we’re talking to Belinda because The Bone Clinic, while it sounds like a movie is in fact something quite new. It’s a world’s first approach. Welcome to Health Professional Radio Belinda.
Belinda Beck: Thanks Wayne.
W: Now tell us a little bit about The Bone Clinic?
B: The Bone Clinic is a combination of about 25 years of research in the area of exercise and bone for me and I partnered up with a person who was a weightlifting champion during performing Olympic weightlifting which is a specialized kind of weightlifting, heavy weight. We have decided to form a clinic to put some of our research findings into practice because we’ve been recently conducting at the least more trial with osteoporotic women and we’ve got our finding that this particular exercise program of lifters is having fantastic results.
W: Now many of our listeners are clinicians – both nurses, doctors and allied health professionals – but they’re going to be very familiar with osteoporosis because it is a growing problem, isn’t it?
B: Yeah that’s right. Yeah there’s a million of people that effected by…and even more as our population ages. It’s really an enormous problem not sure that people are aware of what a big problem it is, we have fractures happening every couple of the minutes. And those fractures are often times hip fractures which very very traumatic. Although they are not always life threatening, they can be particularly for men after a six months’ time. Many older men actually do die from that particular incident but more importantly well not more importantly but as importantly the loss of independence the people do tend to be out to community and into a higher care facility after a hip fracture.
W: Yes, its typically one of those stories isn’t it? “Mom’s moves into a nursing home because she broke a hip.”
B: That’s right.
W: Now generally osteoporosis is one of those disease that involves generally I guess GP to start with and the next road’s the radiology clinics and then the dieticians and then the whole range of providers. What’s The Bone Clinic doing that’s different here?
B: We decided to put everything under the one roof and not only that, to really target our service to bones. So in the past when doctors are faced with a patient who has or they suspect they have osteoporosis, they did have a little fracture, they will send them for a bone scan to radiology clinic and then the patient typically will have to come back and discuss their options with them. And then the doctor … normally if they have a very low mass and their increase of a second fracture then normally we prescribe some medication. The uptake of that medication is very poor, now the alternative for that for someone who is at high risk of fracture are very very at minimal. So the typical recommendation well if you’re not gonna take the drugs then you’re only alternative is exercise, vitamin D and calcium. The vitamin D and calcium arguably is something that is reasonably easy to manage but the exercise recommendations to this point has been pretty ordinary I have to say and this is coming from someone who’s been involved in developing these recommendations. Because in the past we have thought that people with very low bone mass can’t do the kinds of exercise the bone lacks and that exercise is do really high intensity, heavy weight, high impact because we always thought that it would cause the fracture we’re trying to prevent. Now the fact of a matter is Lisa came to me and said “I’m doing this particular exercise program, we’re very heavy weight and I’m getting fantastic results from my women who are coming to me with osteoporosis.” And I said “what are you doing here?” She explained it to me and I said “You can’t be serious, I may need some proof.” She showed me some proof that she is getting good result. And she also assured me that she wasn’t getting any injuries so I thought “Okay well this is too good to be true.” Because she’s getting better results than any research study I’ve ever been or read about. So I happened to have a Physio student who wanted to do a PhD, so we put together a project and created control trial using this program – 100 women and then we allocated them into a very low density, a typical osteoporosis work out and this really “high intensity heavy weight lifting program.” And right now we’re in the middle of that, we haven’t quite finish but we’ve got about 35 women back with having have their follow up scans and we’ve just got these fantastic results where they are improving bone, massively improving their muscle strength but best of all nobody is injured. And this is as far as I’m concern, this is a justification to have a bone clinic where you’re actually providing supervised targeted exercise for osteoporosis and finally doctors will have somewhere that you actually recommend people to go, were you know they will be safe and they’ll get an effective exercise prescription.
W: That’s interesting, isn’t it? Well I guess in fairness I talk to a lot of researchers and I shouldn’t be surprised but I always am at how often the kind of the results of evidence-based research quite contradict the kind of conventional wisdom on how things are known.
B: Yeah, I would agree. And it’s because we are all very conscious about not doing any harm and I’m not a physician and I’m an exo-scientist. And so I’m not in a position to be prescribing any particular clinical therapy. I have three Physio’s on my supervisory team, oh two 2 Physios and one Physio student working with this. So we designed the program to have a very gradual lead in because we were so terrified that we were going to hurt somebody but after a while we thought “We don’t even have to go that slowly with this. We can introduce this much quicker.” We’re still not getting any injuries. So you’re right it’s surprising that it just takes a little bit of faith.
W: Yes. Now Belinda, do people need a referral to come to the clinic?
B: They don’t. If they want reimbursement for various, we’re sort of operating under DPMP sort of a framework and so if they wanted to come in and have reimbursable visits, they could. Our plan is to have their two visits with the dietician because finding calcium rich food can be quite challenging for people, so we have a diet analysis for them, some recommendations. And then spending the rest of their visit with our exercise physiologist who is then gonna teach them how to do these exercises. And then after that it’s up to them, we’re they come and sort a take on a, it’s a bit like a gym membership, they come in and do there at the workout with us where it’s fully supervise and under really safe conditions. Lisa originally ran a gym for women with osteoporosis and she has … basically I call them the cheer squad because and she has women who are going to follow her from there all gym and keep working out with us at The Bone Clinic, that’s pretty much…
W: It sounds like something that will get a lot of attention as soon as word gets around that it’s available because osteoporosis is one of those things that sufferers do look for a better solution that they’re currently getting I think generally. Where can they find you?
B: We’re at Coorparoo in Brisbane. I used to be a Brisbane girl … but so I moved to the Gold Coast so I’m not good for people giving directions but we have a website which is www.theboneclinic.com.au and all the information are on there. Information about the program, where we are, what we do, what their options are. You can sign up for us to contact you and there’s also some testimonials.
W: So Belinda people can find you at www.theboneclinic.com.au. I assume there are photos and testimonials. You were talking about the dowager’s hump, tell us about that.
B: Yes. So many of the women that come into our … program have already it’s not a pronounced thoracic kyphosis or dowager’s hump, at least some kind of deformity starting and doing a lot of our extension, back extension exercises has made them straighten up. And not only are they looking straighter, but they’re straight in posture and this is a thing that did my… it’s actually making them grow. So we have a significant difference between our control group and our intervention group right now of about a little over half centimeter in height, just because people are standing up straighter and we have images showing that difference on the website.
W: It will be a fascinating paper to read when it’s published, I’m sure and I’m going to head off now and have a look at the website because I’m intrigued. Professor Belinda Beck, thank you for being with us this morning. If you just joined us and missed our interview, we have a transcript on our website and a SoundCloud archive and it’s on YouTube as well. It’s at www.hpr.fm, my name is Wayne Bucklar. This is Health Professional Radio.