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10.7.6 Provision of home exercise equipment

Last amended 
13 April 2023

There is strong medical evidence to support the theory that the majority of musculoskeletal conditions benefit from a regular, long-term exercise program. The department therefore encourages home based exercise programs monitored by the client’s treating physiotherapist or exercise physiologist. This may be enhanced by the provision of small items of home exercise equipment.

Gym and pool membership programs and other generalised exercise programs are not able to be provided through a DVA Health Card. The only circumstances under which a gymnasium/pool membership could be considered would be as a short term (no more than 3 month), one-off activity approved under a psychosocial rehabilitation plan or a vocational rehabilitation plan. Ideally, clients will progress to a home-based exercise program for the long-term management of their condition. The supervising physiotherapist can make recommendations regarding the requirements for a home-based exercise program for the client. Please see section 6.7.1 in this library for further information about gym/pool memberships.

Home exercise equipment available through the RAP Schedule

Exercise bands and exercise pedals are available through the RAP Schedule. Therefore, where there is evidence of a clinical need for the item, based on an assessment by a suitably qualified health professional, and the client holds a DVA Health Card, these items can be provided through RAP.

Stationary bikes

Stationary exercise bikes and recumbent stationary bikes can be provided through RAP if the client has a DVA Health Card. Exercise bikes are normally supplied for a specific episode of care, for example, for physical rehabilitation after knee surgery. For Gold Card holders, there must be evidence of a clinical need for the exercise bike. For White Card holders, the clinical need for the exercise bike must be due to the client’s accepted condition(s).

The GP or Specialist should provide a document that states it is medically safe for the entitled person to undertake an exercise program utilising a stationary exercise bike. An exercise bike is not intended for general fitness or weight loss unless its use forms part of a medically supervised weight loss program recommended by a Bariatric Specialist and monitored by a medical provider. The effectiveness and the safety of the exercise bike is to be reviewed after three months of use, by an exercise physiologist, physiotherapist, GP or Specialist. Ongoing monitoring of safe usage is also highly recommended. For further details, please check the RAP Schedule under Physiotherapy appliances.

Home exercise equipment available through the rehabilitation provisions

The following process must be followed when considering requests for home exercise equipment through the rehabilitation provisions:

  • the client is unable to access the home exercise equipment through RAP;
  • all requests for home exercise equipment must be made by the client’s treating medical practitioner, physiotherapist or exercise physiologist and must be specifically related to the client’s accepted condition;
  • the home exercise program will be monitored by the client’s treating physiotherapist or exercise physiologist;
  • equipment cannot be provided for general fitness or weight loss;
  • approval can be considered for the purchase of small items of equipment, such as hand and leg weights, swiss balls, exercise tubing, exercise mats, pool buoys and pool paddles; and
  • approval should not be given for the purchase of any equipment with moving parts or springs/cables for example, home mini-gyms, treadmills, rowing machines, or cross trainers.

Home based exercise programs using smaller items of equipment are more easily supervised. Programs entailing larger items with moving parts are more difficult to supervise and may create a further risk of injury, especially as machines age and deteriorate.