Despite her weak bones due to osteoporosis, Harmala Gupta, 59, who runs an NGO that supports cancer patients, wanted to stay fit and active. Her doctor had warned that if she did not exercise, she could turn into a nut-cracker.
But for years she did not know where to go to for a safe work out. “I was scared to hit a gym because I was not sure if the instructors were trained enough to handle a person with my kind of medical history. Apart from osteoporosis, I’m also a cancer survivor. I was in pain and couldn’t even walk straight,” says Gupta.
“I was asked to swim but that is better for muscles. Finally I heard of ActivOrtho from a friend and it’s been nearly a year and with the range of exercises on different machines, I have not felt fitter,” she adds.
Situated at south Delhi’s Vasant Vihar area, ActivOrtho is a comprehensive centre for sports medicine, orthopaedic rehab, pain management and prevention run by a German orthopaedic specialist and former surgeon, Dr Gerd Mueller.
Nearly three years before he started in Delhi, Dr Mueller did his research and realised there was not much available in terms of a proper rehabilitation facility; whatever was found was a little bit along with surgical and post-operative care.
“It was all so scattered and limited. This place had good equipment for surgery but no proper scheme for after treatment,” he said.
Stand-alone rehabilitation centres, specializing in sports medicine is a relatively new concept. Dr Pushpinder Bajaj, orthopaedic surgeon, who runs Bajaj Speciality Clinic in south Delhi’s Safdarjung Enclave, says, “Customised rehabilitation programme is the need of the hour for it gives fantastic outcomes post-surgery. A well done surgery without a good rehab programme actually means only half the work done.”
He adds, “We have 14 rehab chambers and high-end gym equipment in our clinic. In fact, 70% of the people that visit us are those who haven’t undergone surgery but prefer coming to our centre for fitness programmes rather than hitting a gym because they have some joint or muscular condition and need medical supervision.”
Some of the common conditions that these centres get are back, neck and knee pain, lose or flat foot that a lot of Indians suffer from and frozen shoulders. There are a few cases of wrist, elbow and ankle pain as well.
In fact, repetitive-stress injuries are not the bane of athletes alone. Fifty per cent of the injuries that Safdarjung Hospital’s Sports Injury Centre, a stand-alone centre in the government sector that offers comprehensive rehabilitative care, sees in a day are to people who hurt themselves without playing a sport.
In Mumbai, too, such centres are proving a boon for people with sports-related injuries. Filmmaker and marathon runner, Siddharth Bahuguna, 46, was devastated when, after a severe knee tendon injury, his physiotherapist advised him to stop running. Not willing to accept defeat, he went to other physiotherapists but all said the same thing. However, a search on the internet landed him at the Prakruti Sports Science and Physiotherapy Clinic Centre.
On his first visit, he says, he felt that his injury was finally being understood. “The physiotherapists I met earlier treated me for joint pain or arthiritis, but nobody treated it for what it was — a sports injury,” says Bahuguna. “Within three months of starting treatment, I got back to running,” he added.
Founded in 1997 by physiotherapist Harshada Rajadhyakshya, Prakruti offers rehab options, lifestyle modification counselling and exercise schedules for people suffering from sports injuries and gait disorders. With ties to the Sports Authority of India, the centres help treat and train national-level athletes.
“I started this clinic after realising that there was a lacuna between treating a sports injury and getting the patient back on track,” says Rajadhyakshya. “Back when we started, hardly anyone practiced sports seriously in the city, but now people of all age groups visit us, including professional athletes, marathon runners, school children and senior citizens.”
These centres are frequented as much by fitness enthusiasts as patients . “There is no need to live with pain, it is possible by and large to get rid of it in a non-invasive way,” added Dr Mueller.