Volunteer Shout Outs! Join us in highlighting the dedicated work of our team behind the magic of Physiopedia.

Monthly Volunteer Shout Out: Wendy Walker.

Physiopedia is proud to launch a new initiative, by highlighting the important work of it’s contributors – the volunteers. PP and it’s associated pages are written by Physiotherapists (PTs), for PTs. It is through their enthusiasm and dedication for sharing knowledge that users from around the world benefit from all that is Physiopedia.

Volunteering is a way to give back to an organization or a profession that you wholeheartedly believe in. Our first featured volunteer is Wendy Walker, who has been actively giving her time and energy to PP for 6 years.

Get to know Wendy and her role, by reading our very first volunteer shout out for the month of September.

The following are Wendy’s comments:

What is your current role with PP: Topic expert for Facial Palsy and Facial Nerve; Team Lead for Physical Activity Project; Team member for Traumatic Brain Injury project.

PT almar-mata: Withington Hospital School of Physiotherapy, in Manchester England.

Where I work: England, North West region., South Manchester and Stockport.

My PT role: I have 2 separate jobs/roles.

  1. Specialist in facial palsy rehabilitation; working at a Centre of Excellence in South Manchester, seeing patients with facial palsy from all over the UK, and a few from other countries – I currently have 2 patients from Denmark, and 1 from Israel on my books. I also lecture and teach on this topic.
  2. Neurological Physiotherapist working in Stockport; treating patients with stroke, head injury, peripheral nerve injury, cauda equina syndrome, and anything which the younger members of the team don’t feel equipped to treat. I am involved in the training of junior physiotherapists and physiotherapy assistants.

Rewarding part of being a PT: There are many rewards to this job, particularly the partnership which develops with the patient as we do our work together, and the gratitude which they express as they see improvement. I love the great variety of the work, and really enjoy the challenge of treating patients with unusual neurological conditions.

Challenging aspects of being a PT: Managing the patient’s expectations can be difficult in some circumstances – when people have suffered significant nerve damage and they will never be able to achieve 100% recovery, the challenge is to be honest about this and still keep them motivated to do the rehabilitation, celebrating the progress made. Also, there’s such sadness when working with people with deteriorating conditions, as we become so involved in their lives and their that of their family members.

Professional Passions: Continuing to develop improved rehabilitation for people with facial palsy.  Providing effective rehabilitation for people with neurological conditions, with an emphasis on variety and fun in their home exercise programs so that they do not get bored.

Personal passions:  Classical music is a major passion; I sing alto in a large classical choir, which is a big time commitment but worth every minute as the joy of regularly performing (and also making recordings) with a world class symphony orchestra, the Halle Orchestra, is immense. I have been doing this for the past 15 years and find it completely thrilling, especially when we perform in the Royal Albert Hall at the Proms. I still find it rather incredible that I have sung (one voice of many, of course!) with some of the best singers in the world, such as Bryn Terfel.

Advice to newly graduating PTs: Now is the time you really start to learn, so embrace that and read around the conditions you find yourself treating; also spend time with older therapists who can give you the benefit of their experience. I’m pleased to be able to tell you that even after doing this job for more than 35 years, I’m still learning lots, so you can look forward to a career of fascinating work.

Also, in my experience there are very few boring people in this world, so you can also look forward to the privilege of getting to know a wide variety of characters (check out “our characters”, by viewing a list of our volunteers), with varied life experience which they will usually willingly share with you as you go on the rehabilitation journey together.

Where I see myself in 5 years: I’m at the stage of my career when I am reducing my working hours on the long run-up to retirement, with a view to being able to keep working for the next 10 years. I plan to be doing the same 2 jobs which I currently do, but of course life events may take over, and who knows what possibilities might occur… Whatever happens career-wise, I do see myself continuing to be heavily involved with PP!

Best things about being a PP volunteer: Being part of this team, helping develop this amazing resource, getting to know physiotherapists in other countries, the feeling of huge pride in the work we all do – it’s all very rewarding!

How has being a PP volunteer helped my professional development: Creating PP pages has revolutionised the way I think about dissemination of information. So I now guide junior PTs to PP pages when doing supervision, and even experienced therapists who contact the Facial Palsy Clinic asking for advice or support. I have also created a couple of pages aimed at patients, giving advice on topics such as eye care and dry mouth in facial palsy, which are a resource which any clinician or patient can use. The open sharing of written information is an exciting development within the internet, and of course PP is a leading light in this.

My hopes & aspirations for PP:    More of the same, for sure – ie. even more pages on every topic relevant to physiotherapy, more online courses which can be accessed by physios all over the world. I very much hope that in future PP will be able to provide even more support to therapists in countries with fewer resources than it already does; I wonder whether we could even have some sort of physical skill-sharing within our online-world community, maybe some sort of vacation combined with volunteering opportunities?

My favourite Physioplus course: Without doubt it is the first online course I ever did, and in fact this course is the reason I became involved with PP: a Professional Ethics MOOC in 2013. In collaboration with the University of Western Cape in South Africa, Physiopedia ran the world’s first ever physiotherapy or physical therapy MOOC and it changed my outlook on physiotherapy, and also on learning in general. To read Wendy’s review of this course, click here!

See more about the next MOOC on Traumatic Brain Injuries.

 Something Unique about myself:  I am rather obsessed by immersive theatre, and my holidays are planned to indulge this obsession; this has taken me to New York at least once a year, and a couple of years ago I travelled to Shanghai for an immersive theatre show. My family (husband and adult son and daughter) are similarly obsessed, but my friends think I’m crazy…!

If you are inspired by Wendy’s volunteerisms and her neurological expertise, let us know and give us a shout out! Stayed tuned for our next volunteer shout out, in October!