My working world somewhat changed with the introduction of both Level 3 and Level 4 lockdown measures. My clinical world generally revolved around biomechanical patients – those that were plagued with current or old injuries, anything from foot, ankle, knee, hip and lower back pain, through to dysfunction compensating from altered movement patterns. Additionally, I had several athletes, both recreational and elite, striving to improve their running technique and event times. I went from being booked 2 weeks in advance, to having a handful of virtual video consultations booked. My personal life also changed; I now had two children who were unable to go to school and pre-school, and a husband who still had a full-time job working remotely from the home office.
It’s amazing what can be achieved with a virtual video consultation; I am still able to see my patients! We can discuss their current pain/situation, and we can discuss their continued goals. I can see where their pain is located, and I can get them to perform a number of movement tests, as well as help me identify the cause of their pain. They can even show me their shoe wardrobes! I am still able to analyse their walking and running gait, as my patients can provide me with their own video and upload to our secure file server.
My management plans have been altered only slightly – I am still able to provide possible diagnoses, as well as outline the ways in which they can get better. I am still able to provide them with exercises to help them with pain relief and help them get stronger. I am able to advise on return to running programmes, load management programmes to prevent further injury, and to offer technique changes to the way in which they walk or run.
Our patients’ lives have also changed; their goals have been altered, especially those in team-based sports. Their exercise patterns have changed – for a lot of people – they have more time! This can be both a blessing and a curse! Fantastic for one’s mental wellbeing, but too much of an increase, or change in type of exercise could create further, or new, injuries. Of course, there are plenty of parents in a similar situation to me – trying to work from home whilst keep their children occupied, and the need to get out and exercise is even more important!
Ultimately however, the need or the desire to get better, to not have pain or dysfunction as a barrier, has not gone away, and it is wonderful to be able to provide this help and assistance to my patients. I have always loved my job, there is nothing more satisfying and enjoyable to make such an improvement in people’s lives and being able to continue to deliver this high quality, essential service is so rewarding.