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42.9 billion dollars, the real cost of incontinence



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It’s something that almost five million Australians live with every day.

One person in every four. That’s someone you know, or maybe it’s you.

But despite this statistic, there remains a general reluctance by many to discuss the nature and gravity of these problems. While the life-altering issues experienced with continence concerns can be sensitive and awkward to talk about, it is by first normalising these worries, terms, and experiences that we can raise awareness, educate, and start talking about incontinence.

Everyday 19 people undergo surgery to correct their incontinence. The total financial cost to the country is $117 million every day and $42.9 billion every year.

However, there is a more cost-effective solution.

It is world’s best practice to treat incontinence with physiotherapy as first point of call.

24–30 June is World Continence Week; it’s time to talk about the personal and public cost of incontinence.

An Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health study has shown that physiotherapy techniques can help up to 84 per cent of those with stress urinary incontinence (SUI) to achieve continence.

The study found that most SUI patients only needed five physiotherapy treatments on average to alleviate their incontinence and avoid painful, invasive surgery.

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) believes that while some patients will ultimately require and benefit from surgery, physiotherapy should be the first line of treatment.

‘Australians should have access to a continence management program from an appropriately qualified physiotherapist, funded through the Medicare Benefits Scheme,’ APA National President Marcus Dripps said. ‘Data analysis by the APA found that comprehensive physiotherapy treatment costs each patient approximately $500, while surgical management costs between $7820 and $10 260.’

Currently there are no specific Medicare items for continence physiotherapy and only limited ways in which patients can access public funds for this type of treatment.

Let’s start talking about incontinence: go to whatawaste.com.au, share the video, and ask your local Member of Parliament to make one small change to the Medicare Schedule, and transform the lives of almost five million Australians.

To find an APA member who can help treat continence concerns, visit the APA’s website, physiotherapy.asn.au, or the ‘Find a Physio’ page at physiotherapy.asn.au/APAWCM/Controls/FindaPhysio.aspx.

More information regarding physiotherapy treatment for incontinence can be found at the Continence Foundation of Australia’s website, continence.org.au.

Written by the Australian Physiotherapy Association



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