Bucks New University Sports Therapy Students Marilie Appel and Michaela Weedon recently undertook a groundbreaking trip to Denmark with athletes and staff from England Handball. Sports Therapy Course Leader Kevin Campbell- Karn said : ‘This was a great opportunity for Marilie and Michaela and they both did extremely well. Their roles were essentially to provide pitch-side First Aid, taping, strapping and sports massage. These were all areas which they had successfully studied as part of their course, and for which they were insured for the trip.’
Marilie takes up the story:
‘800 miles away from home, thrilled and yet nervous with anticipation we arrived at Idrætshøjskolen in Aarhus, Denmark. Travelling with 37 athletes and staff of England Handball, Michaela and I had been given the opportunity to provide first aid and treatment cover for the week as part of the students Advanced Apprenticeship for Sporting Excellence (AASE) training camp*.
‘Our trip was off to a rocky start as we were informed that our first aid kit bag had accidentally been sent back to London, leaving us with no equipment. However, we were soon able to make a trip to a local sports shop and invested in basic strapping and first aid equipment to help us get through the week. Fortunately for us, our accommodation provided us with a therapy room allowing us to have somewhere to work with the athletes each day.
‘We had an early start each morning with breakfast at 7:00 followed by treating players before training which was usually at 9:00. Training sessions lasted around two hours, which tended to be one morning session and one evening session after dinner. We would continue to work with the players before and after training sessions, sometimes as late as 22:30 in the evening.
‘It was interesting to watch the players training especially as I had little knowledge of the sport prior to this trip. The female team invited us to join in on a training session which allowed us to understand why some of the more sport specific injuries from handball occur, such as tack blisters and rotator cuff overuse. Getting involved was also a great way to break the ice with some of players.
‘During the week we also travelled to another Danish school where the athletes trained with Danish students and played friendly matches against them. This allowed us to practise pitch side first aid. During this experience we saw minor injuries mostly but also had one incident in particular occur which was the worst injury of the game and week. It involved a high-speed impact between two players that resulted in a severe contusion to the quadriceps. The player was unable to take part in training for the remainder of the week.
‘We also had the chance to explore Aarhus city for a few hours one afternoon with the athletes; this again was another great opportunity to keep building our rapport with them and to see a new city.
‘The day before we left Denmark was my birthday and the whole team had got together with the help of Michaela and surprised me with a signed card, birthday cake and balloons, making it a very special day for me. We made close friends with a lot of the athletes on the camp and gained excellent contacts for the future.’
‘Amongst all the things I learnt from this trip, I think the most important thing that I can take from this is to not be afraid to put yourself out there for opportunities. This was the first time that we were looking after a whole team and I was worried that I wouldn't know what to do, but our training kicked in and we supported each other where we had weaknesses and this allowed our strengths to more easily be put to focused use. Secondly, we realised how important kit organisation is to being a successful and professional therapist. Firstly having enough kit, but also knowing what's in your kit bag and where it is for quick and easy access. Lastly, I learnt that athletes who train often have a good understanding of their own long term injuries so it is essential talk to them and understand their needs and to work from there.
‘My advice to future students looking for placements would be to take yourself out of your comfort zone because what you learn out of the experience is so much more rewarding than the brief period of time where you might feel nervous.
‘Finally I would just like to give a special thanks to England Handball for funding all our expenses for this trip and to Kevin Campbell-Karn, Neal Reynolds and Déarbhla Gallagher at Buckinghamshire New University for organising the opportunity for us’.
*Advanced Apprenticeship for Sporting Excellence (AASE):
'SkillsActive, National Governing Bodies (NGBs) of sport and industry experts developed the programme in 2004 to ensure top young athletes seeking to perform at the highest level receive the support and training they need to succeed in elite sport. The programme has also been designed so that if an athlete falls short of their ultimate goal, they have the skills, knowledge and qualifications to pursue a secondary of supplementary career.'