We would like to introduce you to Jack, a MSK and Sports Physiotherapist who shares his time between Oxford United FC and tops:health
Jack, can you tell us about your role at Oxford United FC?
I am the current Senior Academy physiotherapist at Oxford United Football Club, this role primarily involves working with the Professional development squads (U18s and U23s) as well as the wider academy from Under 9s upwards. I also assist the first team on match days and throughout the week with treatments and rehabilitation sessions. On a day to day basis I would be in charge of injury management within the Professional development squads and academy which involves assessments, treatments, the structuring of rehab and general management tasks.
In a nutshell my job is twofold to get an injured footballer back on the pitch stronger, fitter, faster and more resilient than before his injury while also working to decrease the incidence and severity of injuries.
Can you tell us about your own sporting background and how that assists you in working in elite sport?
I was an elite national level triathlete in Ireland before moving to the UK in order to work in professional sport. From an early age I was involved in every sport you could think of including hurling and Gaelic football. I specialised in athletics from 13 years old onwards before finding my calling as a triathlete (Swim, Run, Cycle) where I trained for between 14 and 21 hours each week during my four years of University.
My background at an elite level of sport assists me in understanding the pressures that athletes are under in the professional environment. In particular when an athlete or patient is injured, as this can affect them way beyond the physical injury, which I know only too well from the countless injuries sustained throughout my sporting career. This helps me to form a bond with the athlete/patient and put all my efforts into helping them get back to competing and not to make the same mistakes I have made when dealing with injuries.
What are the most common injuries you may see in youth sport and how you feel these could be prevented?
The most common injuries within youth sport that I see are growth related disorders such as Osgood Schlatter’s disease and Severs Disease. These injuries can be debilitating to the athlete especially if they are not diagnosed and the athlete/parent are not educated on the injury’s management. In some cases, these injuries can’t be prevented however by carefully monitoring the rate of peak height velocity (growing rate) and the amount of exercise the youth athlete is carrying out then we stand a better chance of preventing them. In most cases if the help of a physiotherapist is sought, a management plan can be put in place that allows for the most optimal continued participation in youth sport.
Do you have any advice for physiotherapy students or new graduates about starting their Physiotherapy career?
Being recently graduated and from the experiences I have had I would advise students or recent graduates to put themselves out of there comfort zone – whether this is following your dream of working in professional sports or working within the NHS. The only way of improving as a physiotherapist is through experience so making sure you put yourself out there and stay on top of your continuous professional development is key. Another piece of advice I would give is to keep learning through research, reading papers and asking questions from more experienced practitioners as we can never have enough knowledge in our aim to give the best possible standard of care to everyone we treat.