Team effort gives everyone a sporting chance

Everyone wins when physios and sports therapists work together with athletes, says Alison Bloxham.

Physios and sports therapists may not always have been comfortable bedfellows. But working with the sports therapy department at Coventry University has led to a rich and positive interaction. My role as lead physio for Transplant Sport, providing physiotherapy to the annual British and bi-annual World Transplant Games, brought me into contact with Sheila Leddington-Wright at the British Games in Coventry in 2009. Ms Leddington-Wright is a physio working as a lecturer on the sports therapy degree course. After the 2013 World Games, we implemented a plan to involve sports therapy students in the provision to the British team. 
We took six students to Argentina in 2015. This resulted in improved services to the athletes, improved collaboration and communication between the professions, and also led to new masters and PhD level research into exercise and transplantation. 
The sports therapists bring core skills in soft tissue techniques and functional analysis to work alongside the diagnostic and clinical reasoning skills of the physios. For the athletes, massage and soft tissue work is a key service, and with many newly-qualified physios lacking skills in this area, there are certainly benefits to collaboration. 
Should we feel threatened professionally by the growth of sports therapy? Perhaps. If we lose our core manual skills the athletes/patients will vote with their feet and seek out those who can deliver such treatment.
But if we embrace the manual skills of sports therapists and use them alongside our wider knowledge base and analysis of movement dysfunction, I see only benefits for therapists and client groups.  
The World Transplant Games will be held in the UK in 2019 and we are already planning our collaborative team for that event. 
If you would like more information, I can be contacted on
  • Alison Bloxham is the principal of Kendal Physiotherapy and Sports Injuries Centre in Cumbria and has been involved in the Transplant Games since 2000.
Alison Bloxham is the principal of Kendal Physiotherapy and Sports Injuries Centre

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