Practitioners Perspectives: Sarah Johnson

Sarah Johnson of Total Restore Physiotherapy reveals her experiences of Covid and the impact it has had on her clients and sector, providing some fantastic insight and tips for us all as we navigate through the storm.

Tell us what you do and the support or training you provide.

Physiotherapy and Pilates.

What are the specific needs and challenges your clients are facing and how have these been affected by Covid?

We have seen an increase in clients suffering with both mental and physical health issues, directly as a result of COVID-19. For example, the swift change for many people from an office environment to a home working environment has been challenging. People have often been working with poor ergonomic home workstation set ups, lack of equipment, lack of space and lack of advice/ education on how to manage their physical health at home. There appeared to be a ‘make do’ approach initially, however as the impact of COVID-19 has continued now for several months, we have seen an increase in clients complaining of associated health hazards with DSE(display screen equipment) use e.g. upper limb disorders, back pain, repetitive strain injury, neck and shoulder pain. Additionally, people experiencing increased stress, anxiety and fatigue directly affects their physical health. Additionally, clients have been finding it more challenging to keep active due to difficulty accessing gyms, classes, sports, hobbies that they would normally do due to the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions. We also find that people are generally moving less in their day whilst working at home as their normal commute or walking to meetings/ coffee/ lunch etc are gone.

Have you had to develop or change your own offer to meet the changing needs of your clients this year?

Yes, aside from the essential PPE and COVID-19 requirements at the clinic for face to face appointments, we have had to adapt with a more virtual approach to our treatment e.g. pilates, physio, desk assessments via telephone or video consultations. 

Do you have any top tips or advice you can share with us?

Yes, KEEP MOVING! It is vital to avoid prolonged static positions during this time for people who are working from or spending most of their time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Keeping moving helps to prevent injury and ill health, boosts performance and productivity, in addition to the mental health benefits. Take regular and short postural breaks to interrupt static positions, move and stretch, and try to take a short walk in fresh air once a day. Any additional exercise you can add on top of this is fantastic. Ensure to self-assess your workstation if you are a desk based worker at home and seek advice from an appropriate professional, such as a Physiotherapist, if you are unsure on how to do this or need additional advice. Finally, if you are suffering, whether due to mental or physical health reasons, the most important advice we can provide is to speak to someone. You may want to speak to a friend or family member initially, or an appropriate medical professional for specialist advice.

What impact to you predict Covid will have long term in (service area)?

As home working is anticipated to continue in the longer term, with many companies either opting to stay with this approach or a more flexible home/ office arrangement, we could potentially see more people suffering with MSDs (musculoskeletal disorders). Additionally, people who have suffered with COVID-19 are reporting long term physical effects of fatigue, joint pain, muscle pain and reduced exercise tolerance. Therefore, it is anticipated that physical rehabilitation will play a key role in assisting with people’s recovery suffering with long COVID symptoms.

Are there any positive change are you seeing coming out of the pandemic?

Yes, although home working has prevented challenges of its’ own, it has also brought a lot of positivity to people’s lives. For example, for many people, being able to spend more quality time with their family, have a more flexible approach to working and omitting long commutes has been extremely beneficial for many. I have seen positive ways in which companies have adapted to keep employees connected with each other such as a weekly ‘coffee meetings’ via video calls and video exercise classes such as stretching, yoga or Pilates. 

How would someone choose a credible practitioner? What do they need to look out for?

When choosing a Physiotherapist, you need to ensure that the Physiotherapist is chartered and registered with the HCPC (health professions council) and CSP (chartered society of Physiotherapy). You can search on the HCPC for any Physiotherapists’ name to check that they are registered.