You should be cautious with internet medical advice: Prarthna Singh

Prarthna Singh, BPT (Physiotherapy) is currently employed as a physiotherapist at the SAAOL Orthocare Rehabilitation Centre. She possesses significant expertise in orthopaedic ailments such as knee osteoarthritis, frozen shoulder, and lower back pain. Prarthna also exhibits a strong passion for neurological rehabilitation, with a particular focus on conditions like cerebral palsy and stroke.

When a patient explains to you about their health problems, what are the most common mistakes they make in their communication?

Patients often provide their current medical history but tend to overlook or underestimate the relevance of their past medical history, highlighting a potential lack of awareness. In some instances, patients may struggle to accurately communicate their symptoms.

What does health literacy mean to you, and why is it important in patient care?

Health literacy is the ability of an individual to possess knowledge about the healthcare sector and their entitlement to access healthcare services. It holds significant importance as it directly impacts a patient’s path to recovery. Tailored treatment for a specific medical condition is essential, and the quality of care received is of paramount importance. Patients should also be well-informed about government healthcare policies for effective healthcare access.

If a patient is knowledgeable about the basics of their health condition, how helpful is it for the overall treatment procedure?

I believe patients knowing about the health condition they’re suffering from will let them win half of their battle. The mental willingness of the patient is what a doctor or a therapist needs the most. The patience of getting healed can only be attained if the disease is known to the patient because it’s the teamwork of a doctor and a patient who see the same goal.

How much can medical misinformation impact treatment procedures?

Medical misinformation always keeps the patient in dilemma as to whether they are following the right treatment or not. Let’s take an example, there’s a patient and her relative who have pain in their shoulder due to a condition called Adhesive Capsulitis. She got relief from a particular medicine or physiotherapy but our patient is not getting relief from the physiotherapy she’s getting because she has shoulder pain because of cervical dysfunction she has. Here the root cause is her neck and not the shoulder, pain is simply radiating from her cervical spine to her shoulder due to nerve compression. So, the condition should be correctly diagnosed and the patient shouldn’t be misinformed by someone else’s treatment.

What are the most common myths or misinformation you see your patients falling prey to?

The patient thinks that their medical condition will be cured just by completing the course of a few medicines. They fail to accept that medicines work to suppress symptoms and not the root cause of their condition. Medicines are very important but without changes made in lifestyle will get the patient no far, and therefore chances of recurrence of that condition increase. So, lifestyle management plays an equal and important role in getting the patient to overcome the disease.

What is your most common advice to patients to stay away from health misinformation online?

Nowadays, we see there’s a pool of pharmaceutical companies and orthotic companies branding their drugs and supplements and fooling our patients. Being a physiotherapist I’d suggest my patients to stay away from the medical misinformation many of these companies spread.

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