GLA:D Program for Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis treatment in Australia
Osteoarthritis is the most common non-communicable disease in older adults, but can also affect individuals as young as 30 years of age. Osteoarthritis affects an estimated 2.1 million Australian’s. It often results in pain, disability and reduced quality of life, with an estimated cost of $1.6 billion annually.
Current national and international clinical guidelines recommend patient education, exercise and weight loss as first line treatment for osteoarthritis. In Australia, treatment often focuses on medication, injections and surgery. However, many patients do not need or respond well to these interventions. The Australian Rheumatology Association (ARA) is urging GPs to consider alternative therapies, such as exercise therapy, weight loss or other lifestyle changes, before arthroscopy for knee osteoarthritis.
Despite a robust body of evidence from more than 50 randomised, controlled trials (study design used to test how effective a treatment is), 40 of these in knee osteoarthritis and 10 of in hip osteoarthritis supporting the benefits of exercise, the number of people accessing programs that follow this evidence is still very low.
What is GLA:DTM?
The acronym GLA:DTM stands for Good Life with Arthritis: Denmark. GLA:DTM is an education and exercise program developed by researchers in Denmark for people with hip or knee osteoarthritis symptoms.
The GLA:DTM program was initiated in January 2013 in Denmark with the goal of implementing guideline-recommended treatment for people with hip and knee osteoarthritis in order to improve their quality of care.
This program is underpinned by the latest evidence in osteoarthritis research and can only be delivered by GLA:D trained Physiotherapists. Clinicians go through an intense two-day training course to become accredited.
In 2017, La Trobe University in Melbourne brought the program to Australia and started training clinicians across the country. Curtin University was invited to take part in this process with Dr JP Caneiro becoming the Project Lead in Western Australia.
What does GLA:DTM involve?
GLA:DTM Australia training comprises a ‘minimal intervention’ with 2 sessions of patient education delivered over 2 weeks, and 12 sessions of supervised exercise delivered twice weekly for 6 weeks.
Education consists of two education sessions in which the physiotherapists will teach you about osteoarthritis and treatment options with a particular focus on exercise, its beneficial effects on symptoms and general health, and self-help advice. At Body Logic Physiotherapy, the education sessions for the GLA:D program are open to the community and are free of charge.
After the education sessions, you will have an appointment with the Physiotherapists, who will explain the program in detail and invite you to perform some tests to determine your functional ability at the time of assessment. These tests include activities such as sit to standing and walking. You will also be invited to complete an online questionnaire to track the benefits of the program.
Based on your starting physical capacity, the physiotherapists will design an exercise program for you which will be performed under supervision in a group setting. These group exercise sessions will occur twice a week for six weeks to improve muscle control of the joint which leads to reduction in symptoms and improved quality of life.
After the 8-week programme, the patient will be encouraged to continue being physically active and to exercise, either with their physiotherapist or in their local community, to sustain the effects from the treatment in the long term.
The cost of the program can vary depending on location and size of the group. Please discuss this with one of our receptionists. You do not need a referral from your Doctor, however you may be eligible for a rebate from Medicare for some of the cost of the program, if deemed appropriate by your GP, or you may be able to claim privately from your health fund.
What are the benefits of GLA:DTM?
The GLA:DTM Program has been shown to be effective at reducing the burden of osteoarthritis on patients and the community, without many of the possible negative side effects of medication and surgery. Research from the GLA:DTM program in Denmark found symptom progression reduced by 32%. Other outcomes include a less pain, greater functional capacity, reduced use of pain killers, and less people on sick leave. GLA:DTM participants also reported high levels of satisfaction with the program and increased levels of physical activity 12 months after starting the program.
This program is unique in that the education and exercises provided can be applied to everyday activities. By strengthening and correcting daily movement patterns, participants will train their bodies to move with confidence, prevent symptom progression and reduce pain.
Can I participate in GLA:DTM Australia?
You may participate in the GLA:D™ Australia program if you have a hip or knee joint problem, or if you have diagnosed with Osteoarthritis. GLA:D™ Australia is a program for all individuals who experience any hip and/or knee osteoarthritis symptoms, regardless of severity.
For people who are not able to participate in the supervised exercise program, they can do the exercise program at home, as directed by their physiotherapist.
Frequently asked questions about GLA:DTM
Please click here to see FAQ’s regarding GLA:D™ Australia program.