Physio breaks new ground ground


Up until the late 1990s in the country injuries such  as sore muscles and broken bones were mended at the local hospital and physiotherapy or rehabilitation was not general knowledge.
Today more Papua New Guineans have latched onto the trend of sports science and medicine. Rhonda Wohemani, pictured, represents this generational shift in PNG sports.
She was privileged to be offered a New Zealand Pacific Island scholarship to study at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, currently undertaking a Masters in Sports Physiotherapy.
The 37-year-old from East Sepik was first inspired to take up the discipline after discovering there was no physiotherapist for the local school rugby team while teaching at Divine Word University in Madang between 2008-2014.
“My interest to take up sports physio occurred while I did my undergraduate research paper on rugby injuries for the university rugby team (DWU) back in 2009, when there were no physios involved in sports clubs.
“Also, it was my time working in the physio clinic at DWU and seeing a lot of soft tissue injuries from sports injury which made me realise the importance of movement and profound ability of the human body to heal.
“It was amazing to see clients who were previously severely injured recover from physiotherapy treatment,” Wohemani said.
In her final year of study, Wohemani shares that sports physiotherapy is about the prevention and management of injury resulting from sports and exercises from all ages and different levels of ability.
She explained that the paper has exposed her to an array of information from injury, prevention, assessment and management and how to deal with teams or an individual athlete.
Other things that also caught her interest include learning of the International Federation of Sports Physiotherapy (IFSPT) which focuses on serving athletes of all ages and abilities through excellence in education, research and clinical practice.  She learnt that clinical practice and research was the way forward to manage different injuries in an athlete and different diagnostic apps that have been developed for the assessment of athletes like an app to measure slow motion video analysis to analyse the injury.
She said at this stage, High Performance Sport PNG was doing fantastic work with sports in PNG and more should be done to bring the level of sports physiotherapy in PNG to the international level.
“This needs collaboration and networking with other organisations that are involved in sports.
“I see the role of physios in PNG HP is vital.
“The importance of physiotherapy with HP is to deliver effective physiotherapy support and minimise injury risk in athletes and optimising rehabilitation and performance.”
At the completing her studies, Wohemani will return to DWU to teach at the physiotherapy school and develop the curriculum. Working closely with HPS PNG for knowledge exchange or student placements to help develop sports physiotherapy.

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