Recently I have been lucky enough to take up a position as a physiotherapist for the Cronulla Sharks Academy. I am required to attend all games and training sessions whilst being responsible for the diagnosis and rehab of all injuries sustained by players. The aim is to then return them to full training and games as soon as possible.
Working with elite athletes and sporting teams has always been a career goal of mine and having the opportunity to work with the Cronulla Sharks is already proving to be a great learning experience.
Within this role there are challenges that I did not expect. Due to the elite nature of these athletes, data is constantly gathered to improve their performance and their well being. This data needs to be interpreted and communicated to the coaching and medical staff. Most players are on GPS tracking during training sessions. They also have baseline measures of their fitness and strength.
One of the most challenging aspects of my job has been interpreting this data to determine how to structure their rehab and plan each session. A complex excel spread sheet is used to determine training loads, percentages and capacities. In saying that, having access to equipment and technology not normally used in a private practice has been a great insight into transferring it to my current patients at Parkside.
Furthermore, not only am I the physiotherapist for the team, I am the on-field medical trainer during games. This is probably the most exciting part of my role as I am heavily involved in the game. I am needed to assess injuries/concussions on field and determine if players can continue playing. The biggest challenge in this role is the pressure placed on you to quickly assess players and determine the severity of their injury and whether they can continue playing. The majority of the players want to continue playing regardless of how severe their injury is as the team is playing short without them and they don’t want to be substituted off. It is crucial I make an accurate diagnosis and determine whether the players can continue or not.
The NRL is very aware of concussion in sport and has provided training to assist me in the correct diagnosis of concussions and spinal injuries. This was very important as we had 2 head injuries in our first trial game!
The experience I have gained already in this role has been great in furthering my ability as a physiotherapist. I am excited for a great season with the Sharks and look forward to transferring my knowledge and skills in treating sports injuries with my patients here at Parkside