Home' Army News : May 4th 2017 Contents Look for ward
Give your daughter the skills
to build an exceptional future
Merici College is an affordable secondary school, educating
young women in a Catholic environment with a strong focus on
pastoral care, and targeted support for ADF families with
an ADF mentor on site.
Our curriculum is wide and varied within a
technology rich environment.
Direct buses to the College are
available from most suburbs
To find out more contact
the Enrolment Officer
Ms Trish Ryan on 02 6243 4102
May 4, 2017
Capt Emma Williams provides exercise therapy advice to SCdt Peta Ker.
Photo: Cpl Mark Doran
Physiotherapists are an integral part
of ensuring a fit and healthy Army,
Cpl Mark Doran reports.
EFENCE demands high
levels of fitness from its per-
sonnel and many of the roles
for soldiers are physically
Injuries happen, but military physi-
otherapists are available to assess and
treat a variety of conditions affecting
movement and physical function.
They provide assessment, advice
and treatment for injuries as well as
appropriate programs for prevention or
Within Defence, APS, contractors
and military personnel staff physiother-
apy departments and work closely with
Capt Emma Williams, of Joint Health
Command, works in the Duntroon
Health Centre (DHC) physiotherapy
She said there were about 40 depart-
ments across Australia.
“Military physiotherapists are mainly
based in Brisbane, Townsville and
Darwin to provide clinical treatments
and deploy with either the general health
battalion, or provide more integral sup-
port with one of the close health com-
panies to support field exercises such as
Talisman Sabre,” she said.
“The physiotherapy services we pro-
vide are about on par with those avail-
able to professional athletes with respect
to timeliness of treatments and facilities
Capt Williams said the most common
injuries for Defence personnel were to
the ankles, shoulders and knees, from
“The majority of our work is mus-
culoskeletal and orthopaedics (post-
surgery),” she said.
“The other common injuries we deal
with are from military training activities
and chronic injuries to the lower back
and neck. We also do post-operative care
for patients with issues like knee recon-
structions and these can take up to 12
months of rehabilitation.
“Neurological conditions such as
acquired brain injuries or balance prob-
lems are often referred to specialist
Appointment procedures vary in dif-
ferent locations, but at DHC there is a
physiotherapy sick parade for acute inju-
ries or patients can book an appointment
at the department without seeing the
medical officer or having a referral.
Capt Williams said physiotherapists
were trained in exercise prescription to
improve function and strength following
“Our focus in Defence is exercise-
based physiotherapy where patients take
ownership of their rehabilitation pro-
gram,” she said.
“We’re not magicians – we can’t fix
people – but they can fix themselves
with the correct advice and guidance.
“The evidence is limited as to the
value of electrotherapy treatments such
as ultrasound or interferential therapy.
Exercise therapy has been proven by
research to be one of the most effective
ways to improve or prevent pain and
“ADF personnel are generally highly
motivated and want to get back to their
job as quickly as possible, so when we
give them a rehabilitation exercise pro-
gram people are generally receptive.”
Capt Williams said if members had
a serious injury and could not pass a
fitness assessment within 28 days there
were administration processes in place
including an assessment of their medical
“This is where the doctor becomes
involved and it could potentially lead to
a medical downgrade,” she said.
“There’s sometimes a stigma about a
downgrade, but it allows people to com-
plete their rehabilitation.”
Capt Williams said if Defence mem-
bers had any musculoskeletal concerns,
physiotherapy staff at their local garrison
medical centres were always ready to
“We can either reassure them or
investigate further,” she said.
“I would much rather see a patient
with a small problem so we can work
out the cause before it gets worse.
“It can be quite frustrating when
someone comes in complaining about
back pain they’ve had for 10 years when
they have never seen anyone about it. It
makes it a lot harder to treat.”
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