Lecturing At UCD School Of Physiotherapy


simon Coghlan-UCD-lecturerIts that time of year again when I am fortunate and privileged to offer my experience and clinical expertise at the UCD School of Physiotherapy. I am currently teaching as an external lecturer on the Musculoskeletal module with my main role to cover the more practical ‘hands on’ aspects of managing patients with spinal conditions.

There is a bridge to gap between the world of academia and course work as offered in the University setting, and the application of this knowledge in a real world clinical setting. This is where I come in as I try to help students learn the manual therapy, exercise and patient management skills to be able to help the patients they encounter as students and upon graduation.

This brings me to some criticism of the University system, which is that of attendance. Given that these skills are only taught once in this setting, I am concerned when the lecture and practical classes don't have a 100% attendance by the physiotherapy students. These are the basic skills anyone wanting to work in musculoskeletal physiotherapy requires to be effective, they are the bread and butter of our practice. The time to gain the knowledge is now, so why not make attendance a priority? The University are trying to address the issue by making practical attendance contribute to the final module grade, however as yet this has not quite made the full impact. I feel that students have to want to learn and that if the passion and enthusiasm is there, attendance would never be an issue.

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10 Top Tips To Cope With Back & Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy

Pregnancy-standingxHaving gone through two pregnancies myself in the past three years I've had first hand and recent experience in dealing with the physical demands of pregnancy. Combining my own experience of back and pelvic pain with my knowledge and insights from my Physiotherapy practise I am able to offer you these ten top tips to help you cope.


Your posture will change during pregnancy especially as your pregnancy progresses and as your baby grows. Your centre of gravity changes and moves more forwards, as such you tend to lean backwards to compensate for this and to avoid falling over. This can pinch the lower back region and make your back muscles work very hard which can lead to back pain during pregnancy.

When standing remember these tips:

  • Head up straight & tuck your chin in slightly
  • Shoulders back & your chest forward
  • Knees straight but not locked
  • Weight balanced evenly on both feet
  • Lower tummy gently tightened which helps support your bump and flattens the lower back slightly
  • Avoid standing in the same position for too long
  • Alternate resting one foot at a time on an small elevated surface for short periods
  • Take regular breaks from prolonged standing

Related article - Pregnancy Posture

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New Pilates Courses Starting 17th February 2014

about-pilatesWe have just published our latest Pilates course schedule.

In previous terms we have not been able to accommodate all the interest in our courses. As promised, we have reviewed our schedule and have managed to squeeze in another two beginner-level classes.

We will always be restricted by the number of classes we can run each week for two reasons

  1. Our instructors are full-time Chartered Physiotherapists
  2. Limited availability of the studio because we also use it as a downstairs consultation room

We have also combined the advanced-beginner and improver level to be able to offer you a smoother progression path. When you reach a suitable level of proficiency in your Pilates practise and would clearly benefit from moving up to a more advanced level you will then be invited by your instructor to progress to the 'improver' level.

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How To Keep Your New Year Resolutions?

Are you planning on making any New Year Resolutions for 2014? If you are then consider why it is necessary to spend more time considering how to keep your New Year Resolutions rather than what they are.

It is estimated that about half the population will commit to new year changes but maybe it is not so surprising to learn that most good intentions don't ever result in long lasting, positive change.

How to Keep Your New Year ResolutionsSo why do we bother making such resolutions when we have such a high chance of being disappointed with ourselves when we break them? In fact, this raises a very important point about the habits we create in our lives. New Year Resolutions are usually about reforming old habits or achieving new goals. However, if we loosely create a whole bunch of unachievable or half-hearted resolutions that we fail to achieve then we are in fact creating a habit of failure. What started out as positive intentions for the new year actually end up causing longer term issues with feelings of self-doubt and lack of self-motivation.

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Why Can Christmas Be So Stressful?

xmas-piesPeaceful family gatherings and indulgent festive feasts is how I like to think of Christmas time. But there is the less harmonious side of Christmas too - the drunken office parties and the over-crowded shopping experience of gift buying.

Our social complexities mean that many of us find some or all aspects of Christmas rather stressful. Maybe the sense of obligation to attend the work Christmas party or the battling of the crowds at the shopping malls is the source of your anxiety. Large crowds, especially the seemingly intense crowds of Christmas consumers, really do spark the fight or flight response in me.

'Social Anxiety' is defined as the persistent fear of or anxiety about one or more social or performance situations that is out of proportion to the actual threat posed by the situation. For example, the fear of not attending the office Christmas party for fear of what others may think of you.

Okay, I admit the threat posed by an unusually large crowd at the local Blackrock shopping centre is probably minimal in reality but is enough to send me on a hasty retreat back to my desk and amazon.com

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Do Anti-inflammatories Work?

It would appear that according to the research evidence anti-inflammatories are indeed effective for pain relief but have shown no proven benefit in actually reducing the signs of inflammation, such as swelling, in a sprained ankle for example.

So, the answer is yes, but not in the way most of us would expect.

In a recent British Journal of Sports Medicine podcast, the effectiveness, use and safety of these commonly used drugs are discussed. The research would suggest that Paracetamol may be as effective in alleviating pain so this should be tried first as it has a lower risk of side effects.

The best pain relief may be achieved by combining Paracetamol with an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen (Neurofen) and often a lower dose of the anti-inflammatories is therefore required, thereby reducing the risk of side effects.

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What A Physiotherapist Can Do For Osteoporosis?

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis means porous bones. It is a progressive bone disease in which a loss of bone mass and density may potentially lead to fracture. It can affect all age groups and both males and females. Women are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis than men, mainly due to the rapid decline in oestrogen levels after the menopause.

Bone is a living tissue that is constantly being absorbed and rebuilt. As we get older more bone is naturally lost than is replaced. However In osteoporosis the bone mineral density is reduced even further. The structure of bone begins to deteriorate and the amount and variety of proteins in bone are altered. This causes bone to become more fragile and more at risk of fracture through a minor fall or bump. The spine, hip and wrist are most commonly involved.

What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is often referred to as the silent disease as it may not be diagnosed until a fracture has occurred. Fractures due to osteoporosis can lead to changes in posture (such as developing a stoop in your back), muscle weakness, loss of height and bone deformity of the spine.

Some people may experience pain in their bones and muscles, particularly in their backs. If you do experience any such symptoms and have some of the risk factors of osteoporosis it is important to talk to your GP.

The list of risk factors is extensive. Here are some of the more commonly associated risk factors:

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Factors To Consider In The Treatment Of Chronic Low Back Pain

Low back pain continues to be a topical issue within society and one which all of us can relate to. Undoubtedly each of us have either suffered with low back pain ourselves or know someone who does.

While for some it can be an acute episode that resolves over a short period of time for others it becomes an ongoing issue that may develop into a much greater problem, that of chronic low back pain.

We recently listened to a very interesting podcast by Dr. Kieran O’Sullivan, from the University of Limerick, on chronic low back pain. He discusses how we as Chartered Physiotherapists can improve our approach in the care of these patients suffering low back pain.

Some highlights from the podcast include:

By the time someone with chronic (around 3 months or more) low back pain attends the physiotherapist he or she may already have been in contact with several healthcare practitioners and undergone extensive diagnostic testing. Each of these practitioners may have had a slightly different explanation as to the cause of this person’s pain.

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Are Trigger Points Causing My Neck Or Back Pain & Can Acupuncture Help?

Trigger points can be found anywhere throughout the body but often give us most trouble causing neck pain and low back pain, both regions which can be implicated in the development of ‘muscular tension’ headaches.

Trigger points are the tender almost nodular feelings in generally taut bands of muscle. They are very good at creating a sense of vague achy, deep dull or boring pain, even sometimes sharp and ‘nervy’. They also result in stiffening and weakening of muscles such that they cannot do their job in supporting an upright posture for example.

Have a feel of the muscles between the neck and the shoulder, those that may feel tense when sitting all day or stressed. If the muscles feel ropey, stringy or hard with one or two spots that are exquisitely painful to press on, these are likely to be trigger points in your upper trapezius muscle.

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How Too Much Too Soon Can Bring Back Your Pain

The below statement was a recent message taken by our receptionist indicating a level of dissatisfaction from a client of ours, Mrs K. With the intention of resolving the client's concern as soon as possible I met with the attending Physiotherapist and together we reviewed the client case notes. This particular scenario has raised an important consideration about the healing process that I would like to share in this article for the benefit of our readers.

Can you call Mrs K back please, she is not happy that after 4 sessions she is still in pain and wants to know where she goes from here?

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