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Physio’s still injure themselves!

Physio’s still injure themselves!

Very recently, I had an accident while I was out running.  I was 9km into a 25km run when I tripped and fell while in the woods.

Unfortunately, I had fallen directly onto a large rock, which was deeply embedded into my knee along with a large chunk of forest floor potentially affecting my patellar tendon and breaching the joint membrane along with a few other minor injuries.

After a day in A&E, X-rays, orthopaedic consultants and eventual removal of the rock and sutures I was able to rock and roll home (pun intended).

As physiotherapists, we often see patients who have had periods of reduced mobility for various reasons such as surgery, injury or illness which can have a knock-on effect to other areas.  

So what does a physiotherapist do when they injure themselves? 

Firstly, I spoke with my treating consultant to ensure that there were no restrictions I needed to adhere to while I was healing, as this is very important advice to follow.

As I was given no restrictions, other than maybe don’t run or do silly things for a while.  I ensured that I was following given advice regarding wound care and monitoring for infection of the skin and septic arthritis (which is high risk with this type of injury).  I ensured I was hydrating well and eating healthily. 

Periods of immobility can increase your risk of developing deep vein thrombosis and affect your muscle tone relatively quickly. Therefore, I was mobilising short distances little and often to ensure I was decreasing this risk and moving my joints and muscles.

I was also making sure that when I was seated, I had the leg elevated but also did regular exercises to maintain strength in my lower limb muscles, as well as making sure I did regular range of movement exercises for the joint as allowed by the sutures and dressings.

As can be expected, gait is significantly affected by an injury like this.  Long term compensatory movements can lead to issues elsewhere such as the back and the hip, so while walking, I was trying to walk as normally as I possibly could.

Ten days following the injury, I have now had sutures removed and the wound has healed beautifully.  I have avoided muscle wasting and weakness and my movement and walking is almost completely back to normal and once the last part of the healing process has occurred, I can move onto the next step of rehabilitation for sports specific activities.

If you have sustained an injury, early intervention can help with recovery and enable you to restore movement and function more quickly.  It is important to seek advice from your physiotherapist, doctor or consultant as to what the appropriate management is to ensure you are managing your injury safely as each injury needs to be treated on a case by case basis.

Tara Lawson Chartered Physiotherapist

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