I qualified as a Physiotherapist in 2001 and have worked in 5 different teaching hospitals. Although I have worked in a variety of settings and with a range of specialties, I have always enjoyed working with people with long term conditions the most; and I find helping people with cystic fibrosis (CF) especially rewarding.
My first experience of caring for someone with CF was on my very first placement as a student Physio when I was just 18 years old. I became part of a team responsible for a 16 year old girl with CF who was incredibly poorly. I was struck by the physio's role at this important time - easing her work of breathing, making her comfortable, and emotionally supporting her and her family. It was obvious that the girl and her family had a lot of history and trust in her CF team and it was clear what an important role the Physio played. Tragically during my placement, this girl died. For me, this made me determined to do whatever I could do to help improve the lives of others with CF.
Over the past 18 years it's incredible how much has changed in CF care and thankfully a 16 year old dying from CF is now a rare occurance. As people with CF have started living longer the role of the Physio has changed. As well as optimizing airway clearance techniques and ventilation (respiratory physiotherapy), a large part of the job involves prescribing exercise, managing posture and musculoskeletal pain, and helping to manage the emotional challenges associated with anxiety, non-adherence and end of life care.
In 2006 I embarked on a part-time Masters in Physiotherapy; alongside which I was also working and undertaking a yoga teacher training diploma with Triyoga London. I had developed a regular meditation and yoga practice a few years earlier and through personally experiencing the physical and emotional benefits of yoga I wanted to train so that I could teach and share the benefits with others in the NHS setting. Thankfully the medical consultant I was working with at the time was agreeable and I began integrating yoga into my physiotherapy practice. I went on to research 'Yoga for Thoracic Kyphosis and Low Back Pain in adults with CF' for my Masters dissertation.
By developing specialist knowledge I have been asked to present at various internation conferences and I am co-author on the national CF guidelines, chapter 'Complementary Therapies in CF' (currently in draft form). I am also working with the CF Trust contributing to their 'Activity Unlimited' working group, and my further interests in adherence and health tech resulted in me been interviewed for an upcoming BBC2 documentary on using health technology to increase enjoyment and adherence with airway clearance techniques.
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