DCM Education Project for GPs and Physiotherapists

Can a training workshop on Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy (DCM) be used to increase awareness and triage confidence amongst general practitioners and physiotherapists? A pilot study.

Who are you? 

I am Julia Tabrah, Consultant Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist at Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in West London, UK. 

Why did you become interested in DCM, and particularly DCM education? 

I have worked as a spinal specialist for many years and have diagnosed lots of people with myelopathy. A significant number of these were referred to me long after they initially presented to their general practitioner. I have witnessed the devastating effects of delayed diagnosis and I am very passionate about raising awareness of the condition to GPs and physiotherapists.

Why did you choose to approach GPs and physiotherapists? 

We know that there is a lack of DCM awareness and triage confidence amongst many healthcare professionals, especially in primary care. Some of my local GPs in West London expressed an interest in learning more about this condition. I also wanted to share the knowledge with my fellow physiotherapists. The slide decks that I created can be found at the end of this blog.

What was your approach, and how did you decide what to educate on? 

I teamed up with a group of neurosurgeons and consultant physiotherapists to design a one-hour DCM training package, including basic pathology, symptoms, examination and real-life case studies to practise triage. We used a survey to measure DCM awareness and triage confidence before and after the training.

What has been your experience? What has been the reception? 

I am pleased to say that awareness and triage confidence significantly increased amongst GPs and physiotherapists as a result of the training, and the feedback was very positive. However, some GPs were unable to attend the training because of time pressures and competing demands.

Have you made changes to the approach? 

We are planning a larger-scale follow-up study using a mixture of resources to optimise engagement e.g. webinars, infographics and possibly an e-learning module. We will need to be savvy with our advertising to generate maximum interest, and we will aim to target a wider audience of advanced healthcare practitioners, medical and nursing staff that might come across DCM in their practice.

What are the challenges? 

Finding the time (as always) and a need to develop marketing/advertising skills!


Download the slides for GP education

Download the slides for physiotherapist education

Cervico-cranial red flag screening tool