The Next Generation of Sports Physiotherapists 

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By Caroline White

The pre-registration physiotherapy students at the University of Birmingham have supported the University sports teams for over 10 years, with the aim to give aspiring Sports Physiotherapists an opportunity to develop key skills to help them achieve their aspirations.  

Over recent years, the scheme has been further enhanced with support from industry experts in elite sports medicine sharing their knowledge, skills and advice on how to get into elite sports.  

Prior to the start of the season, students receive a formal sports first aid qualification delivered by FA Wales. This primarily focuses on traumatic injuries, assessing the unwell patient and CPR. The A-E framework they follow assists the students in prioritising what could be life and death problems and what action within the remit of their scope of practice to follow.  

They then attended a concussion workshop by Dr Patrick O’Halloran. Who runs through the latest research and concussion guidelines, and what this means for them as first responders to the University sports teams. At the University, we have recently agreed to be part of a wider concussion research project aiming to provide high-quality care for our concussed student-athletes. This workshop allows the pitchside students to understand their important role in recognising and removing the suspected concussed athlete.  

At the very start of the season this year, Kiera Ruddy from Northampton Saints RUFC and John Swain from GB Rugby 7s/GB Canoe came in for the day to teach the students how to tape various sports injuries and answer questions on their journey into sport. With the pitchside scheme covering various different sports, from Hockey, Netball, Rugby and American Football, they went through the main taping techniques they will most likely need. A few students did leave with slightly less hair on their ankles than what they started with.  

Throughout the season, students will receive regular CPD sessions covering various topics related to Sports Medicine. Last season, James Rodwell, an alumni student and former Olympic medal-winning GB Rugby 7s player and head coach, spoke to the students about his experience of receiving physio when injured as a player and what a head coach may expect from their physio. This helped the students to understand the importance of teamwork and communication and how role clarity is so important.  

Dr Ajayi, shared her experience on trauma care as a Sports Medicine Doctor and A&E consultant. The students learnt about key assessment skills on the field of play and what the process is the student athlete might undergo when attending A&E.  

As the Graduate School of Sport and Professional Practice, steadily expands. The aim of the pitchside scheme is to continue to explore new opportunities to help develop the future generation of Sports Physiotherapists while equipping them with non-technical skills to take into their professional practice, either in or outside of the sports industry.

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