Meet Joe Coakley

Joe’s been on the team at Richmond Physio since 2016. Respected and admired by his colleagues, he’s built up a loyal following amongst patients of all ages and activity levels. We’re so lucky to have him!

Q. So how did you come to choose physiotherapy, Joe?
A. I guess a desk job didn’t interest me! At the age of seventeen, being involved in sport was appealing so that made me decide to apply to university to study physiotherapy; although I’ve since learned that the profession goes much wider than just sports.

Q. So your eyes were opened during your hospital rotations as a trainee physio?
A. Right, I learned so much from that student experience, working with patients on the wards, in rehab, after stroke or head injury. It brings an understanding of neurology, the cardio-vascular system, respiratory system, not just the musculo-skeletal.

Q. Absolutely. People don’t picture physios working in intensive care do they?
A. Perhaps now they do, so many physios have been transferred from their regular hospital departments to the covid wards and intensive care during the pandemic.

Q. On the proning teams?
A. Yes helping to turn patients with covid and, of course, respiratory physiotherapy for patients with breathing problems. I can only imagine how tough it’s been on all hospital staff this past year.

Q. Yes indeed. So how do you feel about working with PPE in the clinic?
A. Absolutely fine, in fact it’s become second nature. Certainly it’s necessary and it’s reassuring both to our patients and for us. I think it would feel weird not to wear a mask now!

Q. What sort of problems are your patients at Hill Street bringing in?
A. I’d say two categories:
Zoom Neck – people are spending long hours on the computer so their shoulders and necks are getting stiff and sore
The gyms are closed so our weekend warriors aren’t getting their usual strengthening routines. They’re having to sit all day so their hip flexors are tightening up while their glutes and quads are becoming relatively weak. When they go our for a run they’re vulnerable to calf injuries, plantar fascia pain and achilles tendon issues. I’m seeing that a lot.

Q. And running performance is one of your special interests isn’t it?
A. Yes I’ve honed my skills in ‘return to sport’. Now that we have the NordBord and the Jump Mat in Hill Street we can test performance. The partnership with ‘Pitch Ready’ in Canberra is really valuable. We can show people the data now, that proves when they’re ready to get back in the thick of it.

Q. And that ties in with your work at Rosslyn Park?
A. Right, I’m usually at the rugby club for one or two evening sessions and of course the games on Saturdays. Anything can happen on match day! You have to make split second judgement calls on issues around trauma and concussion, when to bring a player off, when to green light their return.
Then there’s longer term rehab for players after ligament injuries like ACL’s identifying their markers and goals, getting them back to where they need to be. It’s fascinating and rewarding work.

Q. What about other sports?
A. I’m interested to see more golfers – not when they’re injured – but before!
I think we can offer them a lot of help around enhancing their swing mechanics and distance. If they’re restricted in their thoracic spines (mid of the back) a couple of sessions releasing this area allows much better rotation.

Q. And how about post-lockdown injuries, any predictions?
A. Lots of people are itching to get going, booking out the golf clubs and tennis courts. It could be ‘too much too soon’, we’ll have to wait and see.

Q. They’re going to need a massage anyway?!
A. Definitely! Can’t wait to get our massage therapists back in clinic once they’re permitted. It’s a great adjunct to physiotherapy, really helps with recovery, plus a regular massage keeps you in tip top condition, ironing out all those minor irritations we can pick up along the way.

Thanks Joe, great to meet you!

Lawton Gate House,
7 Hill Street, Richmond,
London, TW9 1SX

020 8332 1132