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Wimbledon Clinics

Off piste and personal… with Kate Robertson, Consultant Physiotherapist at Wimbledon Clinics

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Have you ever injured yourself skiing?
Fortunately, not — though I’ve obviously treated a fair few! I have a Masters in sports injury and therapy, and spent a couple of seasons working as a physio in Val D’Isere so I saw countless knee, wrist and shoulder injuries coming straight off the slopes.

How did you come to be involved in the Return From Injury day?
I’ve always loved skiing — so when Mr Bell asked me if I’d be interested in being involved, I immediately said yes. This is the second year that I’ve been part of the team, which supports patients who are getting back on skis following an injury or an operation at the Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead.

How does it work?
Patients come into the clinic where they spend an hour or so with me. We go through their injury history — what happened, what rehab they’ve had, what they’re struggling with — and then we perform a series of tests. These help us to get an understanding of their agility; for example, I ask the patient to see how far they can push a ball with one foot, then we measure this against the other leg. Based on their outcome, we can accurately assess their suitability to get back on skis — or if they need more support.

Who is the average Return From Injury patient?
It really differs. We had about 14 patients attend this year — the majority of whom were recovering from a skiing-inflicted trauma — but the range of conditions was incredibly varied. One was recovering from a kneecap replacement, another had undergone a total knee replacement — we even had a husband-and-wife team who came for their initial assessment together! And the age range is the same — the youngest patient was 30, the eldest was about 70.

Is there a standard level of ability?
No — some patients have done multiple seasons; some have only skied for one week. However, they all have one thing in common: they’re incredibly nervous about getting back on skis. For most, they have a significant injury while skiing, they’re taken off the slopes in a blood wagon, they have an operation if they can, and they subsequently spend 6-9 months afterwards in rehab. They want to go back to skiing because it’s something that they loved doing — but it’s been tainted by their memory of this injury. A large part of my job is reassuring my patients that they all feel like this. And the instructors at the Snow Centre are incredible — they really are instrumental in helping patients to get their confidence back, and their guidance goes a long way to making this an amazing day.

How long have you worked at Wimbledon Clinics?
About two years. As a physiotherapist who specialises in the spine, I see anyone or anything, although I don’t do paediatrics. Often, consultants will refer me to someone for spine assessment if they don’t think a patient has made as much progress as expected. I also spend one day per week working for the NHS in addition to running my own private clinics — I love the variety that it gives me.

What’s the best part of your job?
It sounds naff, but probably helping people to achieve their goals. Problem-solving with a patient and enabling them to achieve the thing that they wanted is just brilliant.