Patient Blog: A Long Journey - One girl, a shattered femur and running again! Beatty Park Physio uses the Force

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, my favourite Star Wars character said “never tell me the odds!” When I suffered a terrible fall and broke my femur 9 months ago, with a long and painful road ahead, this became my mantra – and this is the story of how, with the help of Katie Holtham at Beatty Park Physio and her version of the Force, we beat the odds. And I ran again and savoured every breath, step and heartbeat as I did so.

With the specialist guidance, support and cutting edge treatments from Katie and her practice, I ran again, and for over an hour at a time within 7 months of the fall. 

Breaking your femur is horrifically painful – it’s the largest bone in the human body and can be life threatening depending on how close the break is to major arteries. I had to have 3 hours of major surgery to reduce and fix the femur with a 25cm plate and 12 metal pins. The pictures are gruesome. There was a long stay in hospital with needles and tubes in places you don’t want to think about. That aside, the loss of dignity for an independent person such as myself was tough – you can’t bend your leg, move, wash without help, go to the toilet without mobility aids, and even putting on clothes was painful and challenging. I couldn’t drive for 12 weeks. And that’s before you even think about the huge scar on my quad. I cried the first time I saw it without medical dressings to hide it. It totally changes your life.

But there something worse for me. I was, or am, a runner. I used to be a relatively useful UK club runner before moving to Perth and still, even now, competitive for my age category. Dealing with what lay ahead was to present one of the toughest, painful, frustrating but yet uplifting times of my life.

People said “you won’t be running again then”, “you’ll not want to wear shorts anymore”, “what a shame!”, “you’ll be lucky to be walking by Christmas”.

These negative comments may have upset me at the time, but these people didn’t count on two factors – firstly, I’m a pretty determined person, and secondly, having Katie and her team at Beatty Park Physio in my corner was a game changer. It’s like having the dream team. We were more determined to beat those odds – I had to listen to one person only during rehab, Katie said – her!  And I’m so glad I did.

The first challenge was being able to walk. This took 3 months – from the walking frame, to crutches, and constant exercises to restore mobility and bend in my right leg, and being able to weight bear. And each week, Katie added a new target, new exercises to keep pushing me. There were tears – and squeals of pain, and setbacks. The first time she made me walk in the pool was awful. But every milestone felt great – even managing one revolution on the aero bike, or 10 bends on the pilates reformer, or a bend of 90 degrees were huge achievements. Katie went the extra mile with me, pushing my pain to the limits every session.

We gradually rebuilt my muscle and muscle control memory to be able to reload the leg very gradually. Use of the Game Ready ice compression machine to reduce post-op swelling from the day after I left hospital, and regular sessions in the pool, and the Beatty Park Physio gym meant by December I could walk the whole of the parkrun 5km.  That was a great day. I could swim and cycle .But it was just the first part.

I wanted to run. Of course I did. In my darkest moments – Katie promised me I would. I didn’t always believe her – especially the first time she made me go on the anti-gravity treadmill to try and jog for 30 seconds at 30% of my body weight. I could barely lift the leg that was broken. It felt very distressing. The metal plate was digging into my knee. But we persevered.

I’ve long been an advocate of the alter-G treadmill. Its uses technology developed by NASA that allows you to run bearing as little of your bodyweight as you choose, whilst your legs are enclosed in a “bubble” that fills with air to support you. Unlike aqua running (which I also did), you can progressively increase your load bearing, by even tiny percentages each session, to a point where you can be confident your leg (or any injury) can carry your full weight outside in a natural environment. Running strengthens and promotes bone growth – so Katie was keen to get me to start jogging as soon as she could.

Persistence – and tears – meant over the next 6-8 weeks, and doing exactly what I was told in terms of how long to jog, walk and at what percentage of bodyweight resulted in steady progress. The day we got to 50% load bearing and ran for 5 whole minutes was incredible. I had to alter my gait and leg lift due the “hardware” in my leg, and I won’t lie, I could feel every step. I trained my mind to switch off the pain and focus on the weekly targets and the end game.

By February, I could run/walk outside for 5km. I still had constant physio sessions and exercises to do every single day. It took great discipline – but by mid-February, with the help of my most supportive running friends, and Katie, I could run all the way for 5km. And then 7km, 8km, 10km, 12km and 13km by mid-March – and more than a few times a week, getting faster each time. I felt alive. I felt like me again (just a slower one).  I won’t lie – it was painful. Katie had been concerned about the “crunching” around my knee in the break area. She recommended her preferred sports orthopaedic surgeon – Ross Radic. He was fantastic – he saw that I had to run and be active – and identified that once the bone was fixed, the hardware should be removed as it was causing issues with my mobility. So that’s what happened 4 weeks ago.

Most plates and pins stay in for up to 18 mths, but thanks to Katie’s work with me, advice of Ross Radic and my guidance from sports doctor Gary Couanis, the broken bone healed in 6 mths. And the hardware could be safely removed. It did involve another major surgery – but it was far less traumatic.  I walked out of the hospital with crutches and was in the gym, pool – and Katie’s practice – within 2 weeks of surgery. There’s no crunching in my leg, and the use of the Game Ready treatment reduced the soft tissue swelling and scar significantly in a short period of time. I’ll be running very soon.

I have a feeling there’s a triathlon in my near future - and I know , with Katie and the team at Beatty Park in my corner guiding me, and the support of my running/cycling/swimming friends, I’ll take that triathlon apart.

Another favourite film quote of mine is “If you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything” said Marty McFly in Back to the Future. You certainly can. But it helps if you have a great physio such as I’ve found in Katie. It’s such a shame she is a Chelsea fan. 

Suzanne McMahon, May 2017


National U17s Rugby 7s Tournament

Super Proud to be Involved in such an Event full of talented Athletes! Well done to all teams involved, especially in 38 degrees!

Physiotherapists Katie Holtham, Linda Cooper and Physiotherapy Student Tanika Bennell with the boys team

Physiotherapists Katie Holtham, Linda Cooper and Physiotherapy Student Tanika Bennell with the boys team

Western Force Rugby Players in pre season training

The Western Force rugby players drop in to the clinic to take advantage of our top class facilities. Two key players recovering from injury working up a pre season sweat running on our anti gravity treadmill! A recovery swim afterwards in the pool to cool down! Delighted we can be of assistance helping the boys rehab. Best of luck to all the Western Force players and staff for the new 2017 season!

Beatty Park Physiotherapy completes Game Ready Research .. Supporting why superstar Athletes are taking advantage of this Device!

The team at Beatty Park Physiotherapy are constantly thriving to create advantageous rehabilitation protocols to allow our patients to return back to full function quicker - whether your goal is to return to sporting activity or get back to work these results are super impressive!

Katie Holtham and team conducted research comparing the Game Ready device in patients following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) surgery to using standard ice alone. Ten patients utilised the Game Ready device for ten days compared to ten patients using ice alone following ACLR. The research compared swelling in the knee following surgery over a course of ten days and concluded how important the Game Ready device is on assisting you to reduce swelling, pain and start your rehabilitation following surgery far quicker!!

Click here to see the Results and patient feedback from using the Game Ready Device

These results are why AFL superstar Nic Naitanui is using Game Ready following his ACLR Surgery!

Contact Beatty Park Physiotherapy on how you can hire Game Ready following your surgery or from any acute injury for optimal management of both pain and swelling.

No matter which team you're on, you need game ready on you side

Logo credit: NBC sports logo

That was the message loud and clear from the NBC Sports Olympic commentary box today, as Italian Men’s Volleyball Captain, Emanuele Birarelli went down on court with an ankle injury in a tough match against the USA in Rio. (10.8.16)

Listen in to the game plan for his recovery in the video clip at the link below (source NBC Sports)

Exercise on the Moon (almost) with the AlterG.


Introducing our Anti-gravity treadmill, the AlterG. Used to improve sports injury rehab and athlete training. 

The AlterG uses NASA patented technology (advanced differential air pressure) to allow you to reduce gravity impact by controlling the pressure in the chamber. It allows you to select any weight between 20%-100% of your body weight. This allows you to reduce the stress to joints and muscle while you train or while you are recovering from injury.

Clinical studies show that the AlterG treadmills help decrease ground reaction forces in walking and running.

For athletic training the reduction in body weight it allows you to train at a high speed and for greater distances, while reducing impact forces on legs.

That means you can train for harder and longer and have a better recovery.

Cade's story

Cade (one of our physio’s) tweaked his calf while training for the Busselton Half Ironman.

In addition to receiving treatment, he used the AlterG to keep himself running while he was doing his rehabilitation. This was very effective because otherwise he would have been limited to swimming, cycling and walking.

Cade started at 40% of his body weight and incrementally increased to full weight bearing over 3 weeks. Following his rehabilitation Cade then utilised the AlterG to help with his training.

Follow this link to see the benefit of the AlterG for training. 

Linda Cooper meets @AquaticSeries Swimmers


Yesterday, whilst conducting a hydrotherapy session at Beatty Park, I bumped into Australian swimmers who were assisting with a swim clinic before the Aquatic Super Series at Challenge this weekend.  At this event, Australia will take on some of the worlds best swimmers and water polo players from 30 Jan to 1 Feb. The countries taking part are Aus, USA, China & Japan.

I obviously have the wrong gene pool for swimmers. I was astounded how tall they all were!! #SuperSeriousFun 

New York Update

New York Update

Arrive at last after a 30 hour plus plane ride. The Marathon is seriously gaining momentum. At this stage they are saying 60,000 people. There are 3 bands per every mile (approx. 2 kms.). The race covers the 5 Boroughs of New York.

All the sport stores are selling beanies, tights  and gloves in preparation for the run. Coming from Perth the 6 degree race day temperature is going to rattle the bones. But more the winds. The headwind is predicted to be around  50km/hr  A stiff sea breeze gets up to around 30km/hr.

Its very important to reduce the heat loss from the body on days like this coming Sunday. The head and hands in particular are the areas that need protection. The other issue is to maintain hydration and fueling just like in training.

Wow what a place. A lot of very fit people are around Times Square and in Central Park obviously here for the race.

I am not sure if its our accent but its really hard to understand the locals with their normal get up.

Some interesting Facts about the Race:

Women Race Smarter.

In the last 3 years on average 7% of the women race the second of the marathon faster compared to the men, where on average only 5% run it quicker in the second half.

Global Participation in Marathons :

In the 1970’s 31 countries were represented with a total of 25,206 runners (9% women)

In the 2000’s 156 countries with 351,258 participants (32% women)

First Timers doing New York Marathon.

In last 10 years on average each year 78% of the runners are first time (bucket listers).

Kruger Game Park vs New York Marathon

Kruger Game Park vs New York Marathon

It’s the holiday season for a few of the staff.

Linda has headed back to her native South Africa apparently teaching some Lions some manners in Kruger National Park. There will be a flurry of photo’s very shortly.

John who will start treating in the clinic in December has headed off to do the New York Marathon with his partner Chris . His old mate Woosha did it last year and from all accounts it was a tough one.

Following from the marathon John hopes to visit the hospital which supports the event and in-particular have a look at the results some patients have had following “meniscus replacement” surgery. 

Last minute Injury.

Now this is not new to runners “calf tightening and spasm”. They say the cause is bedded in the history. Not a truer word said. Chris has been running in a different brand of shoe recently due to its great fit and the lightness. No problem doing up to 21km (70.3 in Busselton this year). Load on the kms and it's a different story.

This particular shoe has lugs on the bottom  towards the front under the forefoot to cause a rocker motion on push off. Good theory but whats the downside.

Be careful changing something that works and doesn’t breakdown. Calf pain is such an annoying niggle that can plague consistent training.

Over 40 years of age , a forefoot runner and have a rocker on your shoe

Solution –see pic to the right!

Shoulder Pain in Swimmers

Shoulder Pain in Swimmers

Shoulder pain is the most troublesome injury for swimmers. For the mid-aged swimmer often our work posture can become a main contributor for the common bursitis that can become a “pain” and really affect our enjoyment of swimming.

If your shoulder pain almost turns off when you back off your swimming there is a strong chance there is no real structural issue but more of a “Postural Bursitis”. We are talking here that pain that sometimes runs down the side of your upper arm, often difficult to lie on and obviously interruptive with your sleeping.

As a physiotherapist we can often find stiffness in the thoracic spine especially as mentioned aggravated by hours of stooping over ones work station a “creeping habit”.

This is often manifested, by doing the same swim stroke in the pool repeatedly.

The Combined Elevation Test is an excellent test for you to evaluate YOUR upper back flexibility.

Lying on your front with the arms extended out with the thumbs touching and the chin on the floor. The test requires the swimmer to lift only the arms and hold for 5 secs.   If the arms lie in the same line as the armpit to hip line or even more elevated, then “Excellent” flexibility. 

Anything short of this and you are potentially vulnerable to shoulder impingement due to the position of the scapula as it sits on a rounded -kyphotic thoracic spine.

My good mate Glen …….mmmm struggling a bit with this test! Note how he battles to even lift his arms off the floor.

Ideas for improvement.

  1. Correct sitting at work. Small towel rolled up and placed into the lumbar region.
  2. Lift screen height so ear - eye line is level
  3. Lean back over chair hourly and squeeze blades together and hold 10 secs.  Repeat (x3).
  4. Lie back over a fit ball. A great warm up prior to gym or swim work outs 5 mins (invent your own stretch’s)
  5. Try some kick work on the back with fins with hands over the top at the end of training (200M) as a balance to your swim training.

86 year old inspiration: Hawaiian IronMan 2014


Sister Madonna Buder and Hawaiian Man 2014

The Hawaiian Ironman 2014 was completed on Sunday October 10th.

As another year flys past, the Triathlon world stops for one long day and watch’s the “main event” on the Big Island.

The Hawaiian ironman is the pinnacle event for the long distance athletes and no doubt on the bucket list for many people who can set aside 20 hours plus per week to train plus balancing family, work, and of course sleep.

The first race was in 1978 where 15 competitors completed the 3.8Km swim, 180km bike ride and finally the 42km marathon. The event was moved to Kona in 1981where there are now 1800 plus people competing every year. Its legendary status for being very warm around the 36C mark and the very strong cross breezes make it a enormous challenge to just finish.

One lady I would like to introduce is Sister Madonna Buder. Yes a religious sister who has a phenomenal record in triathlons. She has completed in 45 Ironman Triathlon’s and a total of over 325 mixed distances.

In 2006 she successfully competed the Hawaiian Ironman as a 75 year old.

Sister Madonna again set a new world record in the 2012 Ironman Canada and successfully completed the course in less than 17 hours as an 82 year old.

This year she unfortunately did not make the cut off time on the bike and was therefore unable to finish the event but I am sure she will still continue to compete next year.

In a recent interview Sister Madonna quoted, “you don’t think age and you just get up and do and you think you’re a teenager, well, you’ll start to act like one, and you also find out that you never get too old to learn new tricks.”

From a physiotherapy point of view she must be blessed with good genetics and obviously with the enormous training loads has an incredible constitution regarding her knees and hips and spine.  An inspiration to us all.