Coronavirus has affected everyone in different ways. Our guest blogger, Lisa Edwards, shares her experience of returning back to work as a sports therapist and all the things that have changed.
Hello everyone, I’m Lisa a Sports Therapist working in my own private clinic LE Sports Therapy and also for a semi-professional football club. Before the pandemic hit, I was working Monday-Friday in my clinic treating clients with injuries as well as performing sports massages on athletes and sports people. As you know we went into lockdown on the 23rd March which meant I had to shut my business that I had worked for 9 years to build up and also say goodbye to football for a good few months.
Keeping busy during the lockdown
The first few weeks of lockdown felt like a nice forced break but then as the weeks went on it started to become very repetitive. During this time, I was able to finish my PGCE and start a Master’s degree so these keep me busy. Also, during this time I had lots of new guidance to work with and get my head around in order to get everything ready to reopen. The professional organisation that looks after Sports Therapists had sent out a big manual of new legislation that needed to be implemented.
I was able to keep in touch with clients via Zoom and tried to treat them as best as I could giving them self-help treatments and exercises. This was a new concept for me and although I found it challenging at times as I was frustrated that I couldn’t see them and be able to do the necessary hands-on to find out what was wrong. It also proved to be a success, I had one client who was suffering from lower back pain so we had a virtual appointment where I was able to tell what was wrong and offer some advice, this client then came in for a follow-up treatment session when it was safe to come in and said that the advice I had given was spot on and the symptoms had decreased with the exercise therapy I had prescribed.
When we were able to prescribe exercise therapy using the 2m distance rule I had three clients that I was able to work with so would either go into the client’s back garden and we were able to carry out a rehab session using PPE. Another client plays football and was coming back from knee surgery, again we were able to find an outdoor space and carry out functional rehab drills in order to get him back to full training.
The return back to the clinic
This was a strange experience as there were far more rules I had to stick to. Firstly my whole subjective assessment was done virtually and the client had to be screened for Covid using specific questions, this I did actually find useful as it gave me a really good idea of what was wrong with the client before they came in and also reduced the amount of time the client was in the clinic for. The new procedures meant that I had to keep my main door locked so that there was only me and the client in the treatment room, I am liking this new policy as it means I don’t have to worry about someone coming in wanting to talk to me to book an appointment. This I feel I will be carrying on when the restrictions are lifted.
I was incredibly nervous about going back to face to face appointments, but after the first couple of days, that nervousness had gone away. The experience felt strange at first, making sure clients were wearing masks and sanitising their hands at the door. I also had a few funny looks from my regular clients with the PPE that I was wearing. Treating clients with all the PPE was a bit strange at first, usually I would only wear PPE if I was dealing with blood at football. I still haven’t got used to treating clients with a mask on yet, I feel like I can’t breathe in it and I feel like I’m dehydrated.
Top tip for therapists – make sure that you drink plenty of water and make the most of your free time during the gap in between each client to rest and cool down, the PPE is really hot to work in. This new way of working has made me realise that I work far too hard and too much whereas now I have a 30 min gap between each client too. This gap has given me a chance to have a cup of tea and catch up with emails and client note writing, I’m definitely enjoying the slower-paced life.
I’m currently writing this blog at the side of a football pitch while on pitchside duties. Football again has changed so much too. Gone are the days when I can just turn up and treat the players before they go out for their training or a match. I now have to have a little station where they come and check in with me. I have to take their temperatures and make them fill out two screening forms. They also have their own designated cones with everything they need on them as well as a hand sanitiser. They have even asked me if they can go to the toilet, haha.
On a final note from me for any therapist – work may be different right now and maybe like this for a long time but remember why you started and why you love what you do. This is a learning curve, go easy on yourself and remember to take time for you. Make sure you check in with your clients about any concerns that they may have. Oh and carry your hand sanitiser everywhere with you!
Stay safe everyone and good luck