COVID-19- a therapists reflection

by Darren Ross  Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist

Living in Australia with our amazing healthcare system, I cannot start to imagine what people who have been struck down by this disease across the globe must be experiencing. It has now hit our shores, and we all brace for the uncertainty over the coming weeks and months. To those who have lost or may lose loved, lives cut short by this virus, our thoughts and hearts are with you.

I never put pen to paper like this, but I feel that I must share and also record a day I had yesterday, even if only for my reflection in years to come. Yesterday was unique. Unique to the extent that in the 23 years of practising as a Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist, I had not had a day like it.

To put this in perspective, a typical day for me consists of assessing and treating people with acute and chronic injuries, providing assessment, treatment, and education for their back, neck, knee or shoulder conditions.

Over the weekend, it felt like our worlds had changed. Concerts ánd sporting events were shut down or played to empty stadiums, our kids' sports were cancelled, roads were quieter, people bulk purchased any food they could and people became scared.

Yesterday, I had people coming in to see me for their usual conditions but more importantly wanting information. People wanted accurate information on the COVID-19 virus and what we should and could expect over the coming weeks. Now I again reiterate that I am a Physiotherapist, not an Infectious Disease Specialist, and I do not claim to be an expert in this field. The people coming in were turning to me as a health professional, probably the first health professional they have in contact with since the mass media release to help them to get and disseminate the true facts.

Knowing how the media portrays any health advice I spent most of last week sourcing the leading medical facts from the leading sources to self educate and to prepare our clinic in what may lay ahead. So yesterday, I answered my patient's questions to my best ability (based on the facts at hand). It was amazing to see their faces change when presented with events and some resources to continue their accurate researching on the COVID-19 virus. I realised people wanted answers and facts, and that simply our media has failed us in this.

Is our government doing the right things? I think overall, they are close to having done the best they can with the information at hand. This is all new territory for our small world. My biggest criticism of our leaders is that they haven't provided us with a visual expert in this field, one who can be the face of the COVID-19 virus pandemic.

They left it up to politicians and the media. And this simply created panic amongst our communities.

We have so many great doctors and scientists in this field. If we did have a visual expert who can deliver factual and concise information about a viral pandemic to the public, news that is changing day by day our society would better. Calmer. More able to work like a true community and a team, dealing with the challenge ahead.

So what are the facts about COVID-19? Well, with the changes day by day, I too am reluctant to attend to be an authority on the matter. Instead, I recommend several great resources and limit your belief systems based on tabloid and social media. |

Experts like Amesh Adalja are the people who we need to look for the one voice approach to combating issues like this.

So what can we do.... again, this is all covered in the resources above and its best to get the advice from the leading resources, especially as they are changing daily. However, these strategies deal with when to get tested, when to isolate, good hygiene and reducing the spread.

These strategies are things that may delay the spread of the virus. Flatten the curve and reduce the strain on our hospitals and medical system. Will they stop it. No. Is the virus going to be gone tomorrow? No. So what can you do.. what can we all do.

Let's all stay on top of factual information. As I read the other day, misinformation is a virus as well. Let's avoid spreading that one too.

As a health care professional, I have concerns about the physical and mental health issues that we are all faced. Human beings rely on social interaction and physical and mental stimulation. Without it, the glue that holds our society together weakens. Am I saying defy social isolation?  NO

What I am saying is that common sense needs to prevail, and we need to all look out for each other during this trying period. We are so lucky to live in a country that social isolation doesn't mean being couped up in a room/home. We have so much space around us that social isolation can still mean a walk in a park, a run along the river, a swim at the beach. Just keep a distance.  Not like the crowding we see on Bondi Beach. 

It doesn't mean binge on Netflix or daytime television. You can still reduce contact in these events. It means playing football or basketball with your kids in the backyard, trying out bike paths and getting off devices!

Parenting in a style before iPhones and Xbox were our babysitters.

Slowing down and looking after yourself.

After all, if you are exposed to this virus, and we all will you want your immune system to be the best it can be. Take this time to improve your eating habits, get more sleep, and try to reduce your stress. Recently I wrote an article about the five best health apps that I recommend. Now is the perfect time to try medication, yoga, couch to 5km- to read the article click here  

With people and students working and studying from home, please set up your workstations in an ergonomic way-

We can also help you with setting up exercises to help you with any issues you may have or develop over the coming weeks.

If you are feeling well, take the time to get some of your injuries, then we are available to help you. If you are in self-isolation, we offer online telehealth service where we can securely connect with you and assess and manage your conditions. To read more, please visit our website-

Finally, what else can we do?

  • Can we all look out and support our at-risk members of the community:
    • the elderly and disabled
    • people with compromised immune systems
  • Support the amazing doctors, nurses, scientists that will get us through this tough time. In the same way, we supported our firefighters who saved our land these people will work hour after hour and day after day to help us all in the coming months. So, don't criticise the system, be appreciative that we have a health care system that will do its best to reduce the impact this virus will have on us.
  • Slow-down, be compassionate, we are all on this world together.
  • All people are equal. Racism cannot be tolerated and must be called out. But, not in an aggressive manner. I have heard too many stories of blatant racism over the past few weeks.
  • Look out for the people around you. Look out not only for their physical well being but also for mental health. Now is a great time to ask. R U ok? Because many people will do it tough over the next 6 -12 months and beyond. Consider the business owners, the casual workers, the self-funded retirees, those that struggle week to week, to name a few.
  • Keep active. This applies for kids and adults.  If you need help with an program that you can do at home please contact us and we will be more than happy to help you out. This is ideally done using the telehealth system so we can tailor if for your individual needs.
  • And most importantly… be clean. Wash hands, do not touch your face and social appropriately social distance don’t completely isolate.

So, in summary, this impact of this virus will come and go. It will claim lives and change lives. We can wrestle in shopping centres and be angry, or we can unite and fight.

While I reiterate that our team are not pandemic virus experts, but we are here to help you with your physical health. If you are struggling with the mental complexities and challenges, we encourage you or anyone you know to reach out to a trained psychologist. I know they too have set up phone and telehealth support as well during this time to help everyone out in need.

And while I hope that I never have to research another condition like COVID-19 in the future t educate my clients, just a little. I know that I will never take for granted my musculoskeletal knowledge. This experience has reignited a passion for adding to that mental library. That slogan on the Stussey tee-shirt I wore as a fashion item when I was young "knowledge is king" just makes so much more sense today.