The cost of (im)mobility

The past few months have focussed all of us on the costs of things. COVID-19 has robbed us of so much, and we will never fully understand the costs to us as individuals and to society as a whole. Physical, emotional, & financial costs have been bourne by us and will unfortunately continue for a long time to come.
But did you know that Healthcare Professionals are always discussing costs with their patients. In the public sector (eg NHS), financial costs will be rarely covered, whereas physical costs are often explored at length. This is because interactions with Healthcare Professionals will generally involve some form of education, and this will be based on either the cost to you of not following any advice given, or the benefit to you (savings if financial) of following any advice.
In addition in the private healthcare sector, changes in fee structures during & after the pandemic will be evident to ensure sustainability of the businesses that so many rely on for their treatments. This is due to the change in how these businesses have to operate in order to keep you safe from the coronavirus.
So over the next few months, I am going to explore the costs of various aspects of health particularly when related to our feet or gait as these are my specialist areas. To start the series, let’s take a broad approach and look at:

THE COST OF (IM)MOBILITY

Being mobile is an important part of living, yet we often take our ability to get around for granted, not least than when it comes to the parts of our bodies that enable us to be independently mobile – namely our legs and feet. We understand the need to look after other areas of our anatomy (such as our hearts & lungs), but how much attention do we give to the care of our lower limbs?
Yet when they don’t deliver on their job of moving us around, how many of us really appreciate the costs of that:

Physical costs – When our feet or legs are in pain or not functioning well enough for their intended role, it is then more difficult to maintain good muscle strength & tone, bone density, and cardiovascular fitness. This leads to a deterioration in our overall health & wellbeing, which can be irreversible.

Emotional costs – We rely on mobility to enable us to do the things we love, such as going for a walk/run or playing with our children/grandchildren. We all felt the emotional strain of losing our ability to do such things when lockdown restrictions were first introduced a few months ago. So imagine that on an ongoing basis because you have problems with the very things that propel you from A to B without reliance on other equipment.

Financial costs – Oncosts of immobility can build significantly, not just in the expense of mobility aids, but also many need to be mobile in order to be able to earn money, so there is an obvious financial cost if that mobility is compromised in any way. However, education on treatment costs is really the purpose of the forthcoming series of articles, especially how much it costs to “fix” foot & gait problems. For the generic problem of fixing immobility, there is such a wide range of costs that no financial figures given would do it justice. Instead, next time I will highlight a specific health condition, educate you about it and explore the costs associated with it. So keep an eye out for next month’s article.

Jonathan Small, Lead Podiatrist, www.healthfirstsoutham.co.uk

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