The Circuit Breaker period has seen many lifestyle changes among Singaporeans due to the Circuit Breaker measures implemented by our government. Among them, I have observed that the trends of home workouts and sedentary habits have increased, and this is not surprising with the closure of exercise spots and work-from-home (“WFH”) arrangements by various companies.
While home-based workouts definitely help in keeping us fit, the issue arises when we jump onto the newest fitness trends without properly assessing the various contributing factors that will result in the outcome we seek. Some of these factors can include changing our diets or sleep cycles to complement the workout we are doing. For example, people who are unaccustomed to the intensity of these workouts may face a higher risk of bone injury (particularly in the knees and hips) if they have insufficient calcium levels in their bones. Also, did you know that jumping subjects yourself to 7 times your body weight? This causes a lot of sudden stress for your knees and leads to a higher risk of sustaining orthopaedic injuries – such as stress fractures from repeated trauma to the knee due to high-intensity exercise routines, knee and hip issues, or the weakening of joints and ligaments.
For those who suffer from orthopaedic injuries, it is crucial to seek immediate help lest the conditions worsen. However, we know that hospitals are currently tied up with COVID-19 screenings and cases, so where can individuals experiencing orthopaedic issues go to receive the appropriate medical treatment safely and efficiently? A viable alternative, then, is ambulatory care centres where patients can receive treatment with fast turnaround time in an environment with minimal risk.
When you should visit an ambulatory care centre instead of a hospital
Ambulatory care centres, such as StarMed, are suitable for patients who are looking for medical care on an outpatient basis. This includes diagnosis, observation, consultation, treatment, intervention, and rehabilitation. In fact, even advanced medical procedures can be carried out in such a setting! I would say that this relatively new concept is beneficial for patients as there is a lower likelihood of being exposed to high-risk patients with contagious conditions. Patients can undergo their treatment with a peace of mind in an environment where opportunities for cross-infection are minimised.
For example, sports injuries where ligament reconstruction or cartilage repair is needed can be done in day surgery and need not require patients to go to the hospital for such treatments. This saves on time because they can receive the treatment without any additional delays due to administrative systems, and it is ultimately a cost-effective alternative as it would not incur hospitalisation fees. Simply put, a patient may come in with excruciating pain in her knee but can leave within a day with pain-free knee and return to the quality of life she was afraid she might have lost.
Aside from the multiple benefits patients seek, the ambulatory care model ensures hospitals can focus their care and resources on patients who need them the most urgently. For instance, 60-70% of knee and hip sports surgery can be shifted to ambulatory care settings, thereby alleviating pressure on hospitals. Furthermore, once we exit circuit breaker and enter the post-COVID-19 period, I believe ambulatory care centres may be the key to the solution in addressing many of the elective procedures that will inevitably flood our hospital systems.
If you are time-starved
An ambulatory care setting would not require patients to be warded, unless absolutely necessary, for the acute management of chronic conditions is done via elective treatment. The star benefit of such treatments involves quick turnaround times. For instance, after a consultation with the patient, I can immediately arrange for scans with the radiologist at StarMed, which can be conducted before, during and after the surgery. This allows us to have the flexibility to adapt the treatment prescribed for the patient based on real-time updates, as such scans can be done in the same building. Once the scan results are out, we are then able to discuss next action steps for the procedure he or she requires and set up the relevant paperwork to prepare for the procedure in a matter of hours. This is largely due to the multidisciplinary team-based care we have at StarMed, that can work in tandem to ensure the patient can receive the necessary treatment and follow-up as soon as possible. The entire duration of seeking help is therefore reduced and treatment can be carried out without unnecessary time-delays.
An ambulatory care setting allows a highly-integrated care continuum that offers very efficient diagnostic and therapy options. This then lowers the use of the equipment and thus results in lower operational costs in running the centre. Overall, what this means for patients is that they can receive the quality treatment they need at a lower cost. This is especially advantageous for patients who do not have the necessary insurance coverage to ease this financial burden.
If you are keen on minimally invasive procedures
With high-tech equipment in place to facilitate arthroscopic procedures, I am also able to perform minimally invasive complex arthroscopic surgery, if required, in the comfort of StarMed’s premises within 45 minutes to an hour. Under the skillful care and management of an experienced anaesthesiologist, analgesia can be titrated accurately for adequate pain control and yet allows early rehabilitation thus facilitating early recovery. Moreover, minimally invasive procedures also reduce the likelihood of scarring. This ensures quick recovery for patients and allows them to return to their normal lives.
If you are keen on robotic-assisted joint replacement surgery
Robotic surgery is not new in the surgical fields. It has been in the surgical field for more than 2 decades and has proved its value in improving surgical care by improving dexterity, 3-D visualization and supporting tele-surgery. Over time and extensive research and development, robotic devices have evolved to be smaller, more efficient and less expensive, allowing more extensive acceptance.
The field of orthopaedic surgery has been an early adopter of robotic surgery. Robotic surgery is very suitable for arthroplasty surgery whereby precision and reproducibility is essential. Robotic-assisted joint replacement have been developed for total hip, total knee and half knee replacement. Utilization of robots in joint replacement improves the position of the components, improved patient’s satisfaction, reduced complications achieving a more consistent outcome. Robotics assisted joint replacement has been gaining traction and popularity worldwide and Singapore. I am trained and able to perform robotic-assisted joint replacement surgery.
Ways you can look after your bone health
Leading a sedentary lifestyle can also be detrimental to your bone health, with one in three Singaporeans leading inadequately active lifestyles. Inactivity and poor diets are risk factors in poor bone health, and this lifestyle habit is no doubt exacerbated by current WFH measures.
Did you know that ladies have the ability to build up their bone mass to its peak when they are around 30-35 years of age? Bone health will deteriorate substantially thereafter, so building up bone health in the earlier years is crucial. Further, male and female youths leading inactive lifestyles essentially miss out on opportunities for bone strengthening during the prime window, if they do not exercise. Not only that, obese or overweight individuals deal with greater pressure exerted on their joints, which may lead to knee arthritis or knee degeneration as they age.
At ambulatory care centres, people can seek regular check-ups and ensure that their bones are kept well and healthy. These checks are very simple and fast due to all our specialists being in one building, complemented by consultations which are helpful in learning how to improve and upkeep your bone health. This provides a seamless experience for the patient; he can be referred to the cardiologist or dietician within the same centre for a holistic assessment of his health, as heart and gut health are similarly affected by sedentary lifestyles.
Looking onward and adapting to the new normal
It is encouraging that the current situation has inspired people to adapt and overcome their limitations, and I believe that home workouts and remote working are here to stay, even after the pandemic ends.
As this behaviour continues and we make home exercise part of our stable lives, we need to be vigilant in adapting the preventive and active care we give to our bodies to accommodate these lifestyle changes. If not, injuries may occur if home workouts are not done properly, especially in an environment without professional guidance. It is therefore imperative that our focus continues to be on our health and wellbeing, especially our bone health as it plays an important role in providing structure to our body, protecting our vital organs and anchoring our muscles.
As we transition into post-COVID-19 times, it would be great to see more Singaporeans adopting healthier habits that they have learnt during the circuit breaker period and improving their overall wellness.
If you have any questions about the procedures you can undergo at StarMed, or would simply like to know what your options are, feel free to reach out to me.