Standing Start For Sports Therapist
Sports Therapy graduate Claire Jones speaks about how her time at the University helped her into her career today.
Invaluable skills learnt
Claire feels the skills and knowledge she gained during her degree were vital in helping her get her current job. Whilst she is now working with a specialised population and learnt new skills on the job, she still draws upon all of the clinical knowledge that she gained during her degree.
Claire said: “I also need to be professional, organised, smart and presentable, skills that I developed during the degree and which I apply to being a successful sports therapist.”
A hugely beneficial placement
In 2007 Claire went on placement with professional football club Brentford FC. Here she worked alongside the physiotherapist, providing sports massage and helping with the treatment and rehabilitation of injured players.
She explained: “Seeing different treatment modalities used in real situations helped me to justify what can be the best method to use with a variety of injuries. I also learnt some new skills and techniques which were really beneficial.”
Claire also had the opportunity to work as pitch side support at the club’s stadium Griffin Park: “Although the pre-match environment was challenging and a high intensity setting to work in, it was a great experience.”
Overall Claire found her placement gave her a real sense of what it would be like to work within professional sport: “The opportunity to work with professional athletes, managers, coaches and other support staff really built my confidence and developed my skills as a sports therapist.”
Experience since graduating
Since graduating Claire’s success has continued. At this year's London Olympic and Paralympic Games Claire worked as a Sports Massage Practitioner, where she had the chance to work with some of the best athletes in the world, an opportunity she described as an: “exciting and rewarding experience.”
Most recently Claire won The Society of Sports Therapists Annual Travelling Scholarship for 2013. This allows her to travel abroad to a place of her choice to gain more experience and enhance her professional development. Claire will be travelling to California next year to learn more about Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation.
Claire has also gained a Level 5 Post Degree Diploma in Sports and Remedial Massage and has a number of volunteer experiences under her belt. This includes having spent 3 seasons at an amateur football club as head sports therapist and working at the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2010.
Claire has gained experience in a clinical setting through working at the University of Hertfordshire Sports Injury and Rehabilitation Centre. She explained: “Being involved in the project from the beginning helped me gain knowledge into the running of a clinic, this helped me set up my own successful clinic for 2 years before I entered into my current role.”
Claire is a sports therapist at Standing Start, a neurological rehabilitation centre for people with spinal cord injuries. Her specific role is to provide specialised rehabilitation to people who have suffered a spinal cord injury.
Following discharge from hospital clients can go to Standing Start for an intensive active rehabilitation programme, specified to their needs and goals. Graduate Claire works on a one to one basis with clients for 2 to 3 hours at a time.
Claire said: “During the sessions we focus on working the paralysed body parts with a functional, intensive exercise programme. We also work on things like core stability and use certain methods and techniques to get the most out of the client in each session.”
Summary of degree experience and advice
Claire really enjoyed her time studying Sports Therapy at the University of Hertfordshire. She feels the knowledge and skills she gained in just 3 years are very valuable. Whilst she found the course challenging and hard at times she had a great experience and praises how the staff and students have a good team relationship.
She said: “The practical aspect of the course, the placement and the undergraduate clinic really helps to prepare you for working as a professional sports therapist.”
As advice to new sports therapists, Claire explained that you have to be prepared to work hard and gain as much practical experience as you can. Claire also felt that it is important that you enjoy the course and most importantly make sure you enjoy the profession.
She concluded: “The skills and knowledge you will gain from going to the University of Hertfordshire will make you a great sports therapist.”