The huge contribution being made to the treatment and prevention of injury by athletic therapists has undoubtedly been one of the success stories of the medical profession in Ireland over the past number of years.
ARTI members have been at the forefront in playing a key role not only in terms of expertise, but also in exploring a more innovative approach to treatment.
A perfect example of the importance and value of Athletic Therapists can be seen in the work of ARTI member and physiotherapist, Kate Sheridan, in her role at the Medfit Proactive Healthcare centre in Blackrock, where the theory of ‘prevention is better than cure’ is very much their mantra.
Kate joined the Dublin practice in March of last year having completed a Masters in Physiotherapy at Robert Gordon University in Scotland. Previous to this Kate graduated from Dublin City University with a BSc in Athletic Therapy and Training (First Class Honours) in 2009 and progressed to become a Certified Athletic Rehabilitation Therapist.
Over the last 12 months, she has been at the forefront of an approach that could revolutionise the approach to medical care over the coming years, with the emphasis very much on prevention.
“I had spent five months in Canada during my time in DCU and I would say that our approach is very much based on the US system. What we really have is a medical exercise facility where the idea is that exercise, rather than medicine, is used to treat and prevent ailments.
“The aims include decreasing blood pressure, decreasing cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease and strokes, while also getting people fit before surgery. To do this we want people to increase exercise levels”, explained the Stillorgan native.
While the benefits have been obvious to both practitioners and patients, Kate is fully aware that obstacles will have to be overcome to make people aware of this option.
“There is no doubt that this will require a change in people’s mindsets, because in many cases people who are sick want the reassurance of being given a tablet.
“As a result we need to build awareness for patients and the medical profession that this option is available. I believe that this is the way healthcare needs to go because at the moment it is reactive when it should be proactive”, added Kate.
The benefits also extend to financial considerations as Kate points out that in the long run it will be more cost effective both for the individual and the state.
“People invest a lot of money in surgery and medication, but in many cases a lot of the problems can be prevented by exercise. Future governments are going to be faced with an elderly population and that will be a huge drain on resources.
“As a result, there is a huge benefit in keeping people healthy which us why we are targeting people from their 30s up to make sure problems can be avoided down the road”, she continued.
Kate, who hails the work being done by ARTI, believes her experience will provide a great example to students currently in Athletic Therapy courses as it is great for them to see the opportunities in forward-thinking centres.
She also believes that her case underlines the value of a multi-disciplinary approach where the expertise of a variety of medical professionals can be combined in the best interests of the patient and healthcare in general.