4 November 2022

Updates & Communications
November 2022

  • What's New This Month:
  • Word from Jen
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis and SARAH
  • MHT's Winter Migration
  • Wrist Arthritis
  • It's Raining Gold for MHT's Superfish James
  • Fast Five with Sharyn Giller


Jennifer Mathias
MHT Director
Senior Clinician

Can you believe it? It’s almost the end of the year.

Blink … and it’s November.

It’s kind of like when you have a lovely baby girl and, blink, she’s doing her year 12 exams (or, as other parents of year 12s will understand, WE’RE doing year 12 exams).

While that’s been the focus in the Mathias household, life has been nothing short of frantic at MHT.

All hands are now back on deck, with our globetrotting therapists returning from their exotic sojourns in Iran, Scotland, the UK and Bali. See some of their fabulous photos further in this edition of the newsletter.

Meanwhile, the commitment of our therapists to the welfare of their patients continues to astound me with so many of the team signing up for further clinical education through the Australian Hand Therapy Association.

Jaime Do added to his extensive list of qualifications with the completion of the AHTA’s Fracture Management Course, Mel Thomas finished the Closed Trauma Course and Lucy Barrett is about to fly to Perth for an Orthotic Fabrication Mobilisation Course. Go team MHT!

Our very experienced, and much loved Emmeline Fooks was lucky enough to present to our good friends at Beyond Blackburn – a local physio and osteopath practice - on wrist rehabilitation AND (it doesn’t stop there) Emmeline and I have been invited by Occupation Therapy Australia to present to graduate Occupational Therapists on wrist and pain management. Can’t wait!

While we’re on a roll, many of MHT’s Senior Therapists are currently re-applying for another five-year accreditation enabling them to be registered as Accredited Hand Therapists. To be registered they must demonstrate an advanced level of competence in hand therapy and prove they have undertaken over 300 hours of advanced upper limb education and assessment, a one-year mentorship and a minimum of 3600 hours in a hand therapy clinic.

In between all of this, there’s Christmas presents to buy!!

Finally, our practice at Knox Private has been expanded and we are now working in the Victorian Bone and Joint Specialist Clinic in Suite 12.

Stay safe and enjoy our November newsletter.

Rheumatoid Arthritis and SARAH

For anybody suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), the pain can be excruciating and the swelling, loss of movement, weakness and stiffness can negatively impact a patient’s physical and mental health.

RA is a form of arthritis that is caused by an autoimmune disease and it is generally picked up via blood tests. Unfortunately, it affects more women than men.

While your GP or rheumatologist might prescribe medications to alleviate some symptoms, research has shown that a program of strengthening and stretching can be highly beneficial.

Here at MHT, we have introduced the SARAH Program for patients impacted by RA.

SARAH stands for Strengthening and Stretching for Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Hand. It was developed by highly qualified occupational therapists and physiotherapists and, after extensive research, was found to successfully relieve painful swelling and stiffness.

At MHT, we only offer evidence-based programs that we know will improve the quality of life for our patients. And SARAH is one of them. Most of our therapists are SARAH certified and able to expertly guide patients through the steps.

Under the SARAH program, 4-to-6 therapy sessions are required to help patients develop a deeper understanding of the disease and the benefits of a prescribed excise regime.Session 1 focuses on education and advice and the therapist will detail joint protection principles and offer advice on ways to mitigate against a resurgence of symptoms.

In sessions 2-5, there is further individualised advice and education, the introduction of a tailored exercise program based on functional capacity, splinting (if needed) and exercise equipment.

The final session includes advice and education for ongoing self-management as well as materials, equipment and exercises to help with your daily tasks.

Research has shown that on completion of the SARAH program, patients with RA can expect better joint mobility, an increase in strength and greater functional capacity to improve their quality of life.

If you’re struggling with RA, we can help you. Please call our receptionists on 03 9000 0557 and ask to speak to one of our SARAH-certified therapists who can explain the program and its benefits in detail.

MHT's Winter Migration

With our Melbourne winter being as hideous as it has been, it is no surprise many of our team flew the chilly coup and head for warmer climes. Who could blame them?

We lost Jaime Do to Bali, Melanie Thomas to Italy, Rose Alibazi to her native Iran and Kimberley McCall to a wedding in Scotland.

All have returned with fabulous tans – OK, maybe not from Scotland – and are rested, re-energised and excited about the next couple of months. Bring on the Christmas party!

Jaime didn’t really elaborate on the details of his Bali trip except to say: “I ate my way around the island and tried as many different cuisines as possible”. In hindsight, maybe that’s all we need to know.

Hand therapist Mel travelled to the ancient city of Rome and the northwest coast of Italy before heading to London to check out the pub scene. Away for three weeks, she walked 194km over her entire trip. Wow. Well, if you’re going to do lots of walking, what better way than from pub to pub in London?

Popular physiotherapist Rose headed home to her native Iran where protests continue to sweep the country over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested in September by the morality police for allegedly wearing her hijab “improperly”.

It's been four years since Rose returned to see her family and she was “super excited and happy” to be going home. She returned to Melbourne via sunny Thailand.

“In Iran, I was spending my time mostly with my family and friends,” she said.

“We went to a couple of cities in Iran including Isfahan and Shiraz, and I bought lots of things from Iran such as Saffron (to make yummy foods), traditional sweets and very beautiful and nice handcrafts.

“When I was there, a new round of protests was happening by the people against the government.

“The protests in Iran still are happening. I stand with the people of Iran and with the Iranian community in Melbourne. I have been going to the protests happening every weekend at Federation Square, Melbourne in the hope of Freedom for Iran and Human Rights”. Beautifully said, Rose. It must be a difficult time for you and your family.

And one of our favourite shoulder specialists, Kim, also returned home, this time to attend a family wedding in Scotland.

It was her first trip since October 2019 and the onset of Covid and she said it was terrific to go back home to see family and friends.

“The main reason for our trip and one of the highlights was a family wedding,” she said.

“I also spent some time doing some wedding planning for our upcoming wedding in Scotland in December so that was very exciting.” Can’t wait for the photos, Kim!

Wrist Arthritis

What is it?

Arthritis damages the soft cartilage that is found between bones. Without a smooth joint surface, the bones rub against each other, leading to joint damage.

Although there are many types of arthritis, the three that most commonly affect the wrist are:

  • Osteoarthritis– articular cartilage that covers the ends of the bones gradually wears away over time.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis– the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues such as cartilage and ligaments and can soften bone.
  • Posttraumatic arthritis- after a trauma to the wrist e.g. fracture, there can be direct injury to the joint cartilage or a wearing of the cartilage over time


Wrist arthritis often presents with pain, swelling, reduced movement or stiffness as well as weakness in the joint.

There is no cure for arthritis, but there are a number of treatments that may help reduce the frequency of your symptoms and relieve the pain and loss of function it can cause. Nonsurgical treatment options may include splinting, exercise, or education on joint protection strategies. Your hand therapist can assist you with these interventions.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, book an appointment.

It's Raining Gold for MHT's Superfish James

MHT's James Carson wins five gold medals out of five races in a competition against mainstream swimmers. He is autistic and intellectually disabled.

As all our lovely readers would already know, MHT has its very own Olympian in therapist Haley Field. They would also know that it’s our director Jen Mathias’ favourite subject.

Look out Haley, 20-year-old James Carson is on your toes.

Superfish James , who works for MHT preparing balance pipes and ensuring the supply of hand putty, is severely autistic and intellectually disabled and a champion in the pool.

Recently James, along with his disabled teammates at Inclusive Sports Training, entered a mainstream competition for the first time ever.

It was raining gold, gold, gold, gold, gold.

Out of the five races James competed in against mainstream athletes at the Masters’ Swimming Victoria Relay Championships held at MSAC, James won every race. Five gold.

Not only that, he and his teammates were awarded Premiers in their Division 3 category.

Congratulations James. We’re very proud of you.

Fast Five with Sharyn Giller

For this month’s Fast Five, we headed to MHT’s LaTrobe Clinic in Bundoora for a chat with our very popular receptionist, Sharyn Giller. And doesn’t she love a chat! A fixture at MHT since August 2021, Sharyn is a particular fave among patients, therapists and the specialists who work at LaTrobe Private Hospital. She’s an expert at juggling them all.
Take it away, Shaz.

What football team do you support and why?

I do enjoy watching a good game of football but I'm not a big supporter of any one team.

What are you reading at the moment?

Just started reading Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

What is your guilty streaming pleasure?


What do you do to relax?

Walking my dog.

What was your first job?

Part-time at Coles while finishing (I think that was also the first job of our last Fast Five victim, Janet Eagland???)

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