People don’t think of sports therapy as a science, but it is

Dr Kate Williams, Sport

February 11 is International Day of Women and Girls in Science. We speak to some of our researchers who tell us why they became interested in working in science.

Dr Kate Williams is a graduate sports therapist, and a member of the Injury, Training Load and Monitoring, Rehabilitation group. She has a strong research interest in injury prevention - understanding what pre-disposes a player to injury and what can be done about it – as well as the area of prolonged sports related concussions.

"People often don’t consider sports therapy as a science, but it is. It takes all the sports science elements of exercise physiology, biomechanics and psychology and combines them with musculoskeletal medicine. We apply this knowledge to help anyone with an interest in sport and exercise, from recreational ‘weekend warrior’ to elite, professional or international athletes.

"What I love about it is that every patient is a puzzle. They’ll present with a unique set of signs and symptoms and an individual story of how those issues affect their day-to-day life. My job is to use sound scientific principles to solve the puzzle, work out what’s wrong and develop a plan to help the patient help themselves which could involve treatment and rehabilitation.

"The research team I work with at USW has a particular focus on hamstring, hip and groin injuries which are common in team sports and are very costly too, keeping players out for long periods of time. By understanding what may cause these injuries, we can make changes to training, rules, or gym-based programmes to ensure that the players’ risk of these injuries is minimised. And we know that keeping your best players fit and available for selection makes your team more successful too.

"We recently collaborated with a national governing body to try to understand why their players get hamstring, hip, and groin injuries. Our research has enabled them to put in place effective measures that have resulted in fewer injuries. Seeing your research have impact and value like this is incredibly rewarding."