I joined Physio Plus in December 2018 working as a Sports Therapist.
Growing up in Coleraine I was involved in sport from an early age. I swam for 14 years with Coleraine Swimming Club and had the honour of captaining them in my final year. I also captained the junior and senior netball teams whilst at school. It was through these sporting experiences that my interest in the human body, injuries and rehabilitation began.
I studied my Sports Therapy degree at the University of Hertfordshire for 4 years which included a sandwich year where I undertook a voluntary placement working alongside the physiotherapists/medical staff at Ospreys Rugby Club in Wales.
During this year I delivered early injury management programmes to acutely injured players and early post-operative players, co-ordinated Prehabilitation sessions, whilst also completing a course in Athletic and Kinesiology taping. I took an active role in delivering early post stage rehabilitation and hydrotherapy to injured and post-operative players.
One aspect that I loved was assisting the physiotherapists on match days and witnessing being part of the sport at a professional level. During this year I was able to collect injury surveillance data which I then used for my dissertation “An epidemiology study of injuries sustained in a professional rugby union team during the 2010-2011 season.”
Over the past 10 years I have continued to work in rugby, providing an injury clinic during the week as well as providing pitch side trauma, strapping and taping and injury analysis to the 1st XV squad on Saturdays throughout the season, a multidisciplinary clinic, alongside physios, podiatrists and providing clinical expertise and Pilates classes for the general public and sporting population.
Personal experience with Spinal Pain, surgery and recovery
It was during my first year of university, I struggled with ongoing lower back and sciatica problems (a gradual onset) and at the end of year 1 I had a discectomy on my lumbar spine because of a “bulging disc” pressing on my sciatic nerve. Although the surgery was able to remove my sciatica pain down my left leg, I was still left very weak through my back and core which led to reoccurring back trouble over the past 10 years. It was only through attending Pilates that has enabled me to improve on my core strength, stability and flexibility. Pilates is something which has completely transformed my life and has made my back pain much more manageable.
For these reasons I decided to train in Pilates. I currently teach the APPI method of Pilates in level 1 and 2 on a weekly basis and have recently qualified in pre and postnatal Pilates and have started to teach anti-natal classes on Saturdays. If someone had told me that I’d be teaching Pilates 10 years ago I wouldn’t have believed them! I believe that my own personal experience of back pain and rehabilitation has enabled me to deal more effectively with patients suffering from the same or similar conditions.
With an interest in my own back and approximately 70% of my patients being back pain related I undertook the Sarah Keys Back Masterclass Course (level 1-4) in Manchester each May over the past 2 years. For those who may not be aware, Sarah Key is one of the world’s leading experts and authors in the treatment of back pain. Treatment involves the use of therapist’s foot, standing on the patient to feel for and encourage movement in the spinal joints. The course delves into detail regarding the five stages of spinal breakdown, as well as educating patients on how to treat their own backs and performing daily exercises to rehydrate dry and stiff discs. It’s been highly effective for my patients in clinic not to mention for myself when I need some treatment! It’s made me hugely aware of the surgical vs conservative pathway for back pain and the importance of educating patients on their back pain. I feel had I known 10 years ago what I know now I may not have gone down the surgical route for my own back pain.
In December 2018 I moved to Dundonald from Coleraine with my husband. We have recently added an addition to our household in the form of our Great Dane puppy Jerry who keeps us entertained! I still attend rugby matches, but this time as a spectator and supporter for my husband who is the head coach and plays at Bangor Rugby Club.