Medical services expand

The list of medical treatments available in Timaru continues to grow thanks to a Christchurch based neurophysiologist.

Clinical neurophysiologist Dr Grant Carroll will spend one day, every second month in Timaru, providing nerve conduction studies. He will increase his visits if there is enough demand.

"The main advantage of this new service is that with new portable equipment South Canterbury patients will no longer have to travel to Christchurch or Dunedin, which are the only centres in the South Island providing nerve conduction studies," he said.

South Canterbury District Health Board primary and community services general manager Fiona Pimm said the need for the service was no greater than before. She said the reason it was now available was because the equipment had become mobile.

The studies are used to measure how well and how fast the nerves conduct electrical signals to muscle. They are typically done when the patient is experiencing numbness, tingling or pain in the arms or legs, and doctors suspect there is a nerve injury.

The most common reason for the test, which takes about half an hour, is to confirm or rule out carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition caused by pressure on the median nerve in the wrist, which supplies feeling and movement to parts of the hand. It can lead to numbness, tingling, weakness, or muscle damage.

Up to 50 patients are expected to require the nerve conduction service annually in Timaru.

An MRI scanner, soon to be installed at Timaru Hospital, will also make life easier for South Canterbury patients who have had to travel to Christchurch.

The Timaru Herald