In Conversation with Antenna member – Dr Claire Minshull from Get Back to Sport

A photo of Dr Claire Minshull

We recently caught up with one of our longstanding members, Rehabilitation and Conditioning Specialist, Dr Claire Minshull.

Claire has over 20 years’ experience in her field and a PhD in exercise science and rehabilitation. She’s also an international speaker and author, a researcher and an academic who has worked for multiple universities across the UK.

Hi Claire, tell us a bit about you and your business, Get Back to Sport…

Of course, hello, my name’s Claire and I’m from Nottingham, I have a PhD in Neuromuscular Performance Rehabilitation Science from the University of Bangor and, before starting my own business, I spent the best part of nine years working as an academic at Nottingham Trent University. I later left NTU and continued researching in Edinburgh, during which time I continued to call Nottingham home. In 2016, I launched Get Back to Sport, an educational and training company for healthcare professionals to help them better incorporate strength and conditioning into their rehabilitation. The training helps to improve their exercise prescriptions to advance rehabilitation outcomes following injury and surgery.

Tell us how you came to find Antenna and what’s kept you with us?

I came to know about Antenna through a friend. I came in as a guest at first and I remembered the place once I’d set up my own business. Antenna is of course not far away from NTU and is even owned by them now. Because my work often takes me away from home, I probably only work from Antenna something like three times a month, but it’s worth it because it’s a good base to have in the city. I like the fact that it’s familiar, it’s a comfortable place to get your work done, there’s strong, reliable Wi-Fi, the staff are really friendly and I can take meetings here too.

You’ve got a new project in the works supporting patients with “prehabilitation”, tell us a bit about this…

On top of working with physios and medics to improve their rehabilitation outcomes, my colleagues and I have developed an application for smartphones and tablets called Joint Approach that helps to improve people’s health and wellbeing whilst waiting for joint replacement surgery.

The service is an extension of Get Back to Sport and helps to combat the issues we face with an ageing population and much longer NHS waiting times for operations. As people get older, many start to suffer with joint pain, often in the knee.  This is normal and can be overcome in many circumstances with properly-targeted exercise and education. But the issue we face is that there’s currently very limited provision of these services for people to self-manage this condition, or indeed when the time comes, prepare for joint replacement. There’s a lot of prehabilitation that can be done to mitigate the pain and discomfort that people feel. Joint Approach helps to fill that void with proven solutions to help patients feel better and do more.

Can you give us a bit of information on joint pain, and how it can be treated?

Well to start with, evidence shows that individuals who are more active and stronger suffer less joint pain. There’s a lack of education generally out there – particularly in the older generations – concerning strength and conditioning. There’s the false perception that we need to slow down with age; this inactivity can in fact be unhelpful and potentially exacerbate joint pain. Our muscles decondition and our thoughts that pain means we’re doing damage aren’t always true. This is where people need education and support, to understand why they’re in pain, what they can do to reduce their pain and how to remain active.

Dr Claire Minshull standing with her Joint Approach colleagues
L-R JointApproach team members, Physiotherapist, Mike Brownlow, Psychologist, Serena Simmons, and Rehabilitation & Conditioning Specialist, Dr Claire Minshull and Barney the dog

Tell us more about JointApproach and your successful pilot in Wales

The Joint Approach app provides education and rehabilitation services from a team of expert professionals, with exercise education to understand what’s going on in their knee, and psychological support to help people set goals and adhere to the programme, even when it’s really difficult.  This is to improve muscle strength and help with reduction and self-management of joint pain. One of the few silver linings to the pandemic was that older people became more comfortable with using technology, like smartphones and tablets, to communicate and keep themselves occupied. Since face to face patient care was more difficult during that time and to make our service accessible to more people, we developed the Joint Approach app where patients can access different exercise modes, and follow tutorial videos prescribed by rehabilitation experts. There are also live classes which have proved very popular, they have a great community feel and it’s very heartwarming to see the support and encouragement the group offer each other.

We started in the NHS in Wales thanks to prior collaborations which helped to get the project off the ground. We delivered a 12-week programme to patients who’d been waiting the longest for knee replacement surgery (>1 year) the results of which have been pretty astonishing – patients’ function, quality of life and pain all improved dramatically and this translated into reduced length of stay in hospital after knee replacement surgery, which is a big cost-saving benefit to the NHS.

What’s next for you… will you be bringing JointApproach to Nottingham?

Now that we have the successful pilot data, we hope to take Joint Approach to the next level. My team and I are currently planning the wider roll-out of the programme across Wales and we’re also looking to expand it into other areas including Nottingham. We’re also expanding to offer this direct to private practitioners and their patients.

There’s an increasing need for NHS and private healthcare services to partner with companies like ours on new and innovative treatments, and clear incentives for commissioners. If you, or one of your family members or friends suffer from joint pain, you’ll know what it’s like. If you have connections in clinical care and would like to help open a dialogue, please do get in touch.

Please say hello to Claire if you see her in the coworking space or get in contact using the  Get Back to Sport website.

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