Physiotherapist has stepped up to be a frontline worker amid the Coronavirus

Women’s health physiotherapist Suzanne Carney has stepped up to be a frontline worker amid the Coronavirus crisis and is taking it in her stride.  

‘Despite the obvious risks of being a frontline worker or a family member or housemate of a frontline worker, the sacrifices that are being made the world over to keep life going as best possible is phenomenal.’

How does a women’s health physiotherapist end up treating a post-operative ankle fracture? Well, when a pandemic turns the whole world upside down, you just have to roll with it! And that is exactly what Suzanne Carney, director of Anatomy Physiotherapy, a specialist pelvic health practice in the West of Ireland and Mummy MOT practitioner is doing.

Suzanne’s private practice has reduced its face to face interactions to severe pain, mastitis, or cracked nipple treatments, and her role as a senior in women’s health at her local HSE hospital has expanded to provide extra care during this crisis. Normally, she sees patients one to one in the outpatient department and her only ventures to the wards are maternity and gynaecology. However, things are running differently at the moment due to government restrictions and the COVID 19 pandemic.

As Ireland is in lockdown, hospital traffic has been minimised and all non-urgent outpatient appointments have been changed to telehealth meaning a large portion of her day is spent either on the phone or at a computer doing online consultations. This is a change for her patients as it is a departure from the hands-on, tactile, visual way of working they are all so used to. But luckily for Suzanne, living and working in Australia for seven years meant that remote consultations were part of her normal working week due to the vastness of the country and the spread of the patients living rurally, some many hours away from their local hospital or physiotherapy practice.

The remaining part of her days in the hospital is spent ‘upstairs’ working alongside an amazing team of physiotherapists and healthcare practitioners on the inpatient wards. Typically, she is treating the patients that are coming to the hospital for non-COVID related issues such as a broken bone, fall, stroke, chest infection, etc as the regular medical admissions are still going on during this time. Likewise, pregnancies and beautiful bundles of joy are still arriving into the world despite the pandemic, and Suzanne is seeing the mum and mums-to-be.

This all probably sounds quite run of the mill; but ‘donning’ and ‘doffing’ of PPE in the correct way, overthinking situations to maintain no cross-contamination, awaiting swab results, alcohol gelling hands every few minutes, continually allaying patient fears with regard to contracting the coronavirus, wearing a face mask all the time hiding the smiles we are offering to staff and patient alike and the persistent feeling of being hot and sweaty from wearing PPE is nothing short of draining both mentally and physically. However, the renewed sense of teamwork and camaraderie that has emerged from this situation is so positive. This is wonderful to witness and be a part of. Despite the obvious risks of being a frontline worker or a family member or housemate of a frontline worker, the sacrifices that are being made the world over to keep life going as best possible is phenomenal.

Prior to specialisation, Suzanne spent many years working on the NHS wards during her physiotherapy training at Manchester Metropolitan University and then as a junior physiotherapist in the Bury, Oldham, Rochdale and North Manchester group of hospitals known as The Pennine Acute Trust. It was during this time that she completed her rotations on the wards and gained the skills that she is utilising again to facilitate patients’ acute care, rehabilitation, and safe return home. Much to her surprise, she is actually finding it really enjoyable to revisit the skills she previously utilised every day as a junior physio such as airway clearance, measuring someone up for crutches, or doing mobility practice and it is amazing how it all comes flooding back when it needs to! This is also a credit to the excellent educators and clinicians she has had the pleasure of working with internationally since venturing into the physiotherapy world.

After working in the UK for a few years, the travel bug took Suzanne to Perth in Western Australia where her interest in pelvic health and providing women with the physiotherapy care they deserve really peaked. While there she completed the globally renowned Masters in Clinical Physiotherapy in Continence and Women’s Health at Curtin University. One of the main differences between the Greater Manchester area versus Perth was the access to and uptake of comprehensive postnatal physiotherapy care. In Australia, it is regarded as standard that a woman would attend for a postnatal check-up after having each baby, and issues like prolapse, pain with intercourse, or stress incontinence are not accepted or put up with.

It was with this perspective on things that Suzanne and her family returned home to Ireland and she set up Anatomy Physiotherapy as a specialist practice dealing with women mainly but also men’s and paediatric continence and pelvic health. Her Mummy MOT practitioner training further reinforced her skills in this area and she is happy to offer a Mummy MOT service online and looks forward to the day that she can start to see her patients face to face in the clinic again.


Contact Suzanne:

(083) 034 3277

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