What Is Wellness Care?

Health is more than an absence of disease. We have all heard this statement before but what does it really mean? In a nutshell, it means that "health" or "wellness" is more than just the prevention or management of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer or back pain. Wellness is achieved through optimizing your physical, psychological and social well-being and can only be acquired through personal empowerment and responsibility. Rather than considering just the diseased or injured part, a "wellness approach" considers the whole person: mind, body and spirit and the wider determinants of health such as lifestyle, social environment, living conditions and so forth where there can be imbalances in an individual's life – that are preventing them from reaching their optimum health. There have been a range of reported positive health outcomes from a wellness approach including: enhanced self-esteem, improved mood, increased satisfaction, opportunities for social participation, increased self-efficacy, various transferable skills and greater confidence that all enhance quality of life. The focus of "wellness" is to promote quality of life not just length or quantity of life.

Wellness care is an essential component to healthcare services and can work in conjunction with medical and rehab services or prevent or reduce the need for risky and costly interventions, including drugs and surgery. Wellness care is delivered through the identification and reduction of lifestyle risk factors; promotion of physical conditioning and fitness; early diagnosis of illness and management of illnesses using lifestyle interventions and nutritional therapy. It is the role of the healthcare professional to promote health education and guidance that can empower individuals, enabling them to maintain and improve their own health. It is also the responsibility of healthcare professionals to provide safe and effective interventions to boost physical and mental health without unpleasant side-effects. Wellness services also need to take into consideration inequalities of health and seek out those individuals who cannot access healthcare services or who do not usually benefit from traditional health services.

Wellness care needs to empower patients to take increased personal responsible for their health care. This includes screening patients to ascertain their risk of chronic diseases; determine their health goals and assess potential barriers in achieving their goals to implementation of health promotion and disease prevention strategies, including cultural and socio-economic factors. Patients should receive a personalized health management plan and be monitored through the course of their care.

Many people do not know that regular care with your rehab professional such as your chiropractor, physiotherapist and massage therapist is just as important as maintaining scheduled visits to your dentist or family physician. For example, we all understand how important it is for our oral health to get our teeth cleaned and checked every 6 months by our dentist and how important it is to get our annual physical exam with our physicians but many fail to see that it is also important to visit a chiropractor, for example to check our spine, joints, balance, coordination and overall physical function. Rehab professionals can detect damage to joints, muscle de-conditioning, postural issues, weight changes, early stages of neurological & musculoskeletal diseases and instability, etc., which, if undetected, can contribute to irreversible arthritic damage, pain and often contribute to chronic disease development and long term disability. Eighty percent of us will experience back pain at any one time in our lives. We all know how disabling the pain can be! In fact, back pain is one of the most disabling of human conditions attributing to high health care costs, time off work and disability claims.

Rehabilitation can be used to treat a variety of conditions including back pain, vertigo, dizziness, cognitive disorders and even mood conditions including depression and anxiety. It is important to target your condition from a psychological, physical and lifestyle perspective, arming you with the full knowledge and capacity you will need to manage and resolve your condition. This is the wellness approach! Even more important is an integrated team-based approach, case management and evidence-based programs designed to achieve measurable results in a short period of time.

I am frequently asked how often should one receive care and whether one should continue to receive treatment after an ailment has subsided? The answer is simple. The most effective treatment approach is through a program of care which emphasizes patient education, self-management with the right balance of rehab interventions to achieve measurable results. Once these results are achieved, let's say 85% reduction in back pain enabling you to return to work, it is advised that patients assume a wellness strategy to ensure their progress is maintained or even continues to improve. Wellness care typically requires monthly consults or visits with our rehab professionals.

Understand that the human body is an incredibly engineered machine but like any engineering prodigies, the human body requires regular care, just like your vehicle requires regular maintenance. Many demands are placed on our bodies each and every day. Rehab professionals can advise on keeping you strong and healthy through nutrition, supplementation, life-style changes and proper exercise. Manual therapy like massage and spinal manipulation will also assist with pain reduction, stress reduction and release soft tissue tension. Simple as it may seem, the power of touch ultimately impacts many functions of the body including the circulatory, nervous & lymphatic systems. Recommendations will ultimately be communicated and reported to your family physician for streamlined care. Nurse case management is a recommended strategy for follow up on certain medical tests.

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