Intensive Rehabilitation in Gymnastics
Intensive Rehabilitation in Gymnastics [470 KB]
With a semi-centralised structure, developing world class sport science and medicine support service was crucial. This was even more poignant for intensive management of care when athletes sustain a significant injury.
Appointment of Head of Sport Science & Medicine
British Gymnastics appointed a role to coordinate all of their sport science and medical support through the EIS at the beginning of this Olympic cycle, Louise Fawcett. An experienced physiotherapist she worked on developing the best support network for the semi-centralised system of the sport.
“After initially reviewing the sport science and medicine support needs, we worked on refining and supplementing the service support for our gymnasts. Each area has been evaluated so that we can ‘tailor’ the service based on the specificity on each discipline within gymnastics” says Louise Fawcett, EIS Head of Sport Science & Medicine for Gymnastics.
“A team approach to service delivery is crucial. Communication pathways are now established to ensure that each gymnast can access the best possible care with a holistic approach to their health and performance needs” she adds.
“We established a semi-centralised system which aims to balance our leading competitors’ requirements to train together in a central location as well as with their local clubs and coaches” says British Gymnastics Performance Director, Tim Jones.
Centrally Planned Rehabilitation
After sustaining a significant injury, gymnasts’ rehabilitation is centrally planned in extreme detail.
Rehabilitation plans will involve a breadth of expertise and input from the likes of EIS Head of Sport Science & Medicine for Gymnastics, Louise Fawcett, EIS Sports Physician Pippa Bennett and experienced rehab practitioners Ruddi Farquharson, EIS S&C Coach, and Simon Spencer, EIS Physio as well as the EIS physio’s working on a frequent basis with the programme, Lindy Laszig and Alistair Little. In addition to this, Nutritional and Psychological support is provided by where required by Mhairi Keil and Pete Lindsay respectively.
Where possible, this intensive rehabilitation is delivered at camps and squad training at the sports’ base at Lilleshall National Sports Centre. Athletes will stay on-site during this time and therefore maximise their rehab work throughout the day.
If athletes aren’t able to access the central base, EIS practitioners have liaised with the support staff at athletes’ clubs who can then deliver programmes at a local level.
“When a gymnast is injured it’s crucial that you not only get the injury fixed, but that their fitness levels are maintained so they can return to international competition as an elite performer” explains EIS Physiotherapist, Simon Spencer. “For injuries faced by gymnasts, we need the injured tissue to be at a level to absorb and create the force that it will be subjected to at international competition.
“We want to obviously avoid hiccups in the rehabilitation process. Obviously hiccups can happen, but the key is to try and make it as predictable as possible so we know exactly where they are in the rehab process – this is why the level of detail is so important.”
Coach & Athlete Involvement
Rehabilitation is often more challenging for athletes than their training as they are unaccustomed to some of the work they’ll need to do to recover from an injury whilst maintaining their fitness in different ways.
Working closely with the coach and athlete on rehabilitation plans is a key element in developing the rehabilitation plans as well as the success of them
“The success of rehab is partly down to the coach and athlete believing the plan will get them back to international level so communication and working closely together is extremely important” explains EIS Physio Simon Spencer.
“Athletes have to trust the support team and we need to be able to say ‘if you do X you should hit X outcomes’. This is totally down to the experience of the team to produce the best plans and process for athletes to go through.”
The system in place for intensive rehabilitation has enabled effective planning an integration of expertise to deliver the most tailored and focused rehabilitation plans for athletes and coaches to utilise.
Beth Tweddle says: “The professional set up of the sport and the medical team at British Gymnastics now is amazing. When I suffered my knee ahead of London I thought it was the end. But, within 48 hours I’d had a scan and was lined up for surgery – when I first started Gymnastics I remember it could take weeks even to get a scan.
“Every moment of my week was planned around my rehab and training”
“I’m constantly working with the team and working hard in the gym to take each competition as it comes and hopefully the next few weeks will go to plan.”