BACK PAIN

04 Jun 2004, 07:02:24 PM

Reporter: Laura Sparkes

One in five Australians suffer from a long-term back or muscle problems costing this country 3 billion dollars a year in healthcare and then there's the 100 million sick days back injuries cause every year. For former Australian fast bowler Geoff Lawson it was one of the reasons he retired.

"My back pain when I was playing was at times excruciating, I've spent 3 months lying stationery on a floor never thinking I'd walk again" says Geoff.

Over the years he's searched for help to ease the pain. Six weeks ago he started using Backlife, the latest back contraption to hit Australian shores.

"Its really giving me the treatment that a physio would only I can do it in my own home twice, three, four times a day, its only 12 mins a go so you can save the time, you save the effort, you certainly save the money gong to the physio can be quite expensive and it certainly has made a difference to me."

Backlife is based on continuous passive movement, a basic technique used by physiotherapists. The movement opens up space between the vertebrae, increases blood flow and relaxes muscles. Its like exercising without going for a walk. But at $600 the machine is expensive.

Brigitte Fischer has tried everything in the past two years to help relieve her backpain. Since using Backlife she hasn't seen a practioner in 2 months.

"There is definitely a change, a big change, I'm no longer so stiff from the middle of my back, I feel lighter, it feels looser."

"From our experience we find that once you try it you buy it" says Ori, Backlife's inventor.

He is in Australia to launch the product. Years ago he watched his father suffer from debilitating back pain after an accident, one day Ori had an idea.

"I took a small chair, fixed it to his height and then I put a stick on the chair and I started to rock it forward and backward so I found it helped him very much so he became addicted."

And the idea of Backlife was conceived. It took four years of research and development, medical consultation and 10 different models before they got it right.

"We don't think that its going to replace a therapist but its a very good device, for a home use device, as a complementary device."

Chiropractor Geoff Brooks has been trying out Backlife at his practice, giving patients the chance to use it in addition to his therapy. "Its natural, its doing exactly what the body needs and theres no harm done."

Orthopaedic surgeon Dr Michael Ryan warns back pain patients that the simplest treatment is exercise. He also suggests Backlife needs a medical trial to test its effectiveness. "The jury is out, it probably needs to be tested on 10,000 people with controls to see if it really works."

But today Geoff Lawson can now enjoy bowling again. He still goes to the chiropractor when needed but uses the machine daily for better movement.

"I feel my back is looser and definitely less pain" says Geoff.

For more information on Backlife, please ring 1800 677 888 or visit their website: www.backlife.com <http://www.backlife.com>