Revolutionary service brings vital muscle relief to patients at home

A brand new service has launched across Somerset to help patients unable to leave home get vital injections to relieve tight muscles. Many neurological patients whose muscles stiffen or tighten often need to visit the hospital for regular botulinum toxin injections from Somerset NHS Foundation Trust’s (FT) spasticity service. This helps to maintain their range of movement and optimises the effectiveness of therapy interventions.

It affects patients with multiple sclerosis and other neurological or brain conditions, as well as those who’ve had a stroke.

The botulinum toxin injections are given under the guidance of an ultrasound at the acute stroke units at Musgrove Park or Yeovil District hospitals, and in an outpatient setting at Dene Barton and South Petherton community hospitals.

This works fine for patients who can travel to these areas, but for those who are housebound or struggle to travel to a hospital setting, they can find it impossible to get their injections, sadly leading to their condition deteriorating.

This has all changed thanks to an incredible donation by the South Petherton Hospital League of Friends, who’ve purchased a portable ultrasound machine that can be used at both the South Petherton and Williton community hospital stroke rehabilitation units, and even more importantly, in a patient’s own home or place of residence.

Jo Moore, a practitioner in Somerset FT’s spasticity team and physiotherapy lead for its stroke early supportive discharge team, explains how the ‘Friends' donation has transformed care for patients in the community.

“I joined our spasticity team four years ago having had a background as a community therapist, so I was able to bring an insight into some of the challenges that our community patients face with coming into clinic,” she says.

“We initially set up a botulinum toxin injection service with ultrasound guidance in clinic settings in the hospital environment, but thanks to this amazing donation we’ve been able to extend our outpatient clinic provision and provide a domiciliary option to care homes and patient homes.

“We’re always looking to improve the service that we provide for our patients, so this naturally came about as our neurological patients are living longer and are more dependant, but that doesn’t come without its challenges.

“For patients who’ve had a stroke, it’s particularly useful for them to be able to access ultrasound guided injections whilst as an inpatient in the stroke rehabilitation units at South Petherton and Williton hospitals.

“The main benefit from having this equipment is that we can now provide this service in patients’ homes, which is particularly useful for our patient group who are generally heavily dependent on others or disabled, so accessing outpatient clinics is a real challenge for them.

“Those who are clinically bed bound or in nursing homes can really struggle with a journey to hospital, often needing a patient transport ambulance, and then they can have a long wait for transport teams to pick them up again.

“Now we can take the portable ultrasound with us to a patient’s home setting, giving them the same level and quality of service as they’d get in hospital, ensuring that the injection goes into the right muscles.

“For example, one of the patients I regularly see in clinic can sadly no longer get out of her house, so when I called her up to say I’m now able to come to her, she was absolutely over the moon and said it made all the difference in the world.

“It’s incredible that we can now provide this equity of access and it has made a significant difference to this group of patients.

“Of course, we do want patients to come to our clinic as a first option, with our home service only for those who absolutely can’t make it to a clinic.

“A huge thank you to the South Petherton Hospital League of Friends and its supporters for donating this money – it’s absolutely fantastic.”

Dr Paull Robathan, chair of the South Petherton Community Hospital League of Friends, says: “We’re delighted that the portable ultrasound has already made such a meaningful difference to patients, and allowed Jo Moore and her colleagues to expand their vital therapy to the home-bound community of patients.

“Along with other interventions, the League of Friends continues to fund innovative enhanced care and support for patients and colleagues alike.”