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Education and Sports Therapy Practice Go Hand in Hand for Society Member Dale Forsdyke

Society Member Dale Forsdyke is a Lecturer in Sports Injury Management at York St John University and is a Graduate from the MSc Sports Therapy Degree at Teesside University. Alongside his lecturing role, he is also undertaking a PhD at York St John University and works with the North Yorkshire Girls Centre of Excellence (Football) as Head of Science and Medicine.

You are a Lecturer in Sports Injury Management at York St John University. Give us a brief overview of your role.

My role at the university is quite diverse. First and foremost I have lecturing duties leading modules on effective skills development and evidence based practice in topics on sports injury prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation.  Ultimately what I am trying to achieve is to produce students who can effectively use reasoning skills to inform their practice whilst being acutely aware of their limitations. Other roles I fulfil include developing undergraduate/postgraduate programmes, developing both internal and external placements opportunities, and organising the therapy based support for our university sports teams. I am also an external examiner for other colleges/universities delivering sports therapy programmes.

Why did you decide to study Sports Therapy at Postgraduate level?

I decided to study postgraduate level Sports Therapy for a number of reasons but primarily I wanted to increase my own therapeutic skills set. The other major reason was that I wanted to develop my own critical awareness of the underpinning evidence base affecting the treatments I give to patients. I believe ultimately that completing the postgraduate award has improved the problem solving and clinical reasoning skills I require to be an effective practitioner, using an interdisciplinary approach.

  • Can you tell us a little about the research you are currently undertaking and why you have chosen to research psychosocial responses to sports injury rehabilitation?

I am currently undertaking a PhD looking at the psychosocial responses to sports injury and how these may affect recovery and rehabilitation outcomes. I am interested in the fact that despite improved medical technology and expected healing timeframes, many athletes do not return to sport or if they do it is not at at the level they were at prior to injury. Consequently there appears to be a common misconception that physical and psychological healing from sport injury takes place within a timeframe when frequently they do not. This means that, as practitioners, we may well be allowing athletes to return to sport when they are physically but not psychological ready. This is something I want to raise awareness of.

  • Has there been much research into psychosocial responses to sports injury rehabilitation conducted already?

The study of sports injury is dominated by research focusing on physical healing despite the literature suggesting that effective rehabilitation from injury is influenced by biological (physical) and psychosocial factors. There is also research that suggests that psychosocial factors can determine an athlete’s relative risk of becoming injured. Therefore by psychosocial factors, injury can be effectively prevented.

  • What do you hope to do with the results? Do you plan to have your work published?

I have already had two articles accepted on this subject in the SportEx Dynamics journal, one of which has already been published (click here to view). Throughout the PhD process I will be working towards other publications and presenting at conferences in a hope that my findings can raise awareness and allow practitioners to better facilitate holistic recovery from sports injury.

  • Thinking back to your time on your MSc Sports Therapy Degree, what elements have been useful for your PhD?

Completing the MSc Sports Therapy directly influenced both my PhD choice of topic and the methodological approach to this topic I plan to use. This was done by the Teeside University adopting a strong interdisciplinary problem based (PBL) and inquiry led teaching, learning, and assessment strategy.

  • What is your role with the North Yorkshire Under 17s Girls Football Squad? How long have you been working with them? How did the opportunity come about?

My role within the North Yorkshire Centre of Excellence is as Head of Science and Medicine with overall responsibility for the injury prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of five different teams, ranging from under nine years to under seventeen. I have been working with the Centre of Excellence for the last three years alongside my daytime job in education. The challenging opportunity came about by making the Technical Director of the centre aware of my skills set as a Sports Therapist and how these could improve the healthcare provision within the centre. Therefore, when the chance arose for some work I grasped it.

  • Tell us about the medical setup at the Centre of Excellence. Are you part of a multidisciplinary team? Are there a number of different sports using the centre?

Because of my academic and vocational background (I also have an MSc in Sports Science) the science and medical setup is led by me and I have responsibility for co-ordinating the conditioning and injury based agenda as well as implementing some of the strategies the Football Association suggests.  I ensure that all teams have at least one final year Sports Therapy placement student who helps to deliver injury preventing warm ups, cool downs, movement coaching, and looking after match day injuries.

 I also coordinate a small team of students to complete regular fitness testing on the players and give feedback to coaches, players, and parents. It is then my responsibility to treat/rehabilitate these injuries and provide feedback to coaches and parents on this.  Due to the age of the players and in order to help facilitate their long term player development, we also use sports psychologists and sports nutritionists to educate the players, parents, and coaches.

What types of injuries are common amongst the players? What rehabilitation programmes are in place to support players?

As one would expect the major area for injury is the lower extremity with the ankle and the knee being the common sites. One of the challenges working with these talented young athletes is that most injuries occur away from the Centre of Excellence, as they all tend to over compete and undertrain. With elite female footballers, the key issues contributing to injury seem related to growth issues and poor movement quality.

We understand 3 of the under 17s you work with have been chosen for the under 17 European Championships Squad. Congratulations. Will you continue to look after these athletes?

As a Centre of Excellence we are one level of performance away from representing England so we work closely with the FA. One of our aims at the Centre of Excellence is to produce future international players so we were delighted that three of our under 17 team were chosen. Two of the players are now recently attached to Women’s Super League 2 team Doncaster Rovers Belles, with the third competing for the Centre of Excellence until the end of the season. What is most rewarding is that one of the players had overcome severe knee complications  and progressed through long term rehabilitation and the problems associated with this, to make the England Squad.

There are many aspects to your career, is there one in particular you enjoy most?

I particularly enjoy how both parts to my working life complement each other. My work within education improves me as a practitioner and vice versa.

What are your plans for the future? Do you plan to undertake any further study?

My long term plan is to remain in education and carry on influencing and directing the future of our profession through teaching and quality publications. Sports Therapy practitioners are tremendously skilled and have a huge part to play in sport, at every level and if I can help to break down some of the barriers to this then I will be happy.

Posted: 27 01 2014

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