Physio Matters announced the launch of the new Physio Matters Ambassador Scheme at a special event on 24 January attended by clients, their families, carers, therapists and rehab teams.
The scheme aims to unite people through their common interests and what they can do and achieve, rather than by their condition and what they can’t do or their disability.
Five clients have been selected as Ambassadors in recognition of their experience in and passion for a sport or activity within their rehab. Each received a trophy and framed certificate to mark the occasion and an Ambassador T-shirt. They will now represent and promote their sport or activity for 12 months, mentor other clients and promote the activity across the Brain Injury community.
Role models and mentors
Speaking at the launch event, Colin Green, Clinical Director at Physio Matters said: “We are extremely proud to launch the new Ambassador Scheme. Today is about people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries. We recognise their experience, determination, hard work and positive attitude. We want to hear people say ‘just because I have a brain injury doesn’t mean I can’t do things anymore. I can still be active and I can help others.’
He told the Ambassadors present: “You may not think you are role models, but you really are”.
Colin later added: “We have been looking at ways to increase social opportunities for clients with a brain injury and bring them together to share experiences and support each other. We hope this scheme will help to do just that. It will unite people by ability rather than disability.
I’d like to thank all the Ambassadors for taking part, as they will be giving up their time and energy to help and mentor others. They will benefit too, working with their Physio Matters buddy, other therapists and each other. We hope they will gain new skills and confidence, make new friends, and give back to others.”
Support for Ambassadors
Each Ambassador will be supported by a ‘Buddy’ – a member of Physio Matters’ Clinical Team who they already know well. Their buddy will support them in the scheme and help organize the mentorship sessions. Ambassadors are further supported by their case managers and therapy teams.
Five Ambassadors for 2020
The five Physio Matters Ambassadors for 2020 and the sport or activity they will represent are as follows:
Dan Worsley – Ambassador for Skiing
Mark Fardon – Ambassador for Golf
Zoe Conway – Ambassador for Walking Netball
Ikhlas Karim – Ambassador for Gym and Fitness
Stephen Derbyshire – Ambassador for Cycling
Each Ambassador was introduced at the launch by their ‘Buddy’ who spoke of their inspiring rehab journey so far. Several Ambassadors also spoke about what the new role means to them.
Mark, the Ambassador for Golf, was riding a motorcycle when he was struck by two cars in January 2015 which led to a traumatic brain injury. He said: “I can’t believe where I was to where I am now, from not wanting to leave the house then to not wanting to stay in now! Our job is to get better and help others get better. We are not individuals, we are a team. Rehab is hard work but you’ve just got to do it. It doesn’t just affect the individual with brain injury but everyone – carers, families and the therapy team. It’s a pleasure to work with you and we welcome you into our homes.”
Proud of Ambassador role
Stephen Derbyshire, Ambassador for Cycling, sustained a brain injury whilst riding his bike in June 2018. He said: “I never thought I would ride a bike again, I did it with the help of my buddy. Physio Matters helped me find a clear pathway to get back into cycling. It’s a privilege to be asked to be part of this scheme and I am very proud to be given this Ambassador Role. I am excited to meet people who have been through similar experiences as myself and share our stories.
This is a great chance for me to share my experience of suffering a brain injury, with extensive physical injuries. Hopefully, I can offer some insight to those who are recovering, and learn from them too. Cycling has always been a hobby but it was also an important part of my daily routine, commuting around London for example. It has been a very pleasurable pastime, keeping fit and taking part in challenges such as the Chris Hoy 100 Mile Charity Race.
I’d like to thank Colin and especially my physio Tim Nike for helping so much with my recovery so far. A big thank you must also go to my family for supporting me through my injuries. I wouldn’t have got this far without their support. Thank you and I look forward to working with you all.”
What will the Ambassadors do?
Within their new role, the Physio Matters Ambassadors will complete a series of mentorship sessions with clients over 12 months. This could be with a new client who needs some help or confidence building, a client who wants to try the sport for the first time, or one who needs a buddy to talk to about their condition and how the sport or activity could help them with their rehab.
The Ambassadors will also attend quarterly meetings with fellow Ambassadors to discuss progress and share ideas. They will decide how to spend a £50 Ambassador Bonus to buy equipment for their sport or activity, and help to promote the Ambassador Scheme through social media and Physio Matters’ events such as ‘Taster Days’.
Socialising after brain injury
A key aim of the Physio Matters Ambassador Scheme is to increase social participation for people with a brain injury, by providing more opportunities for people to interact, with support and guidance.
Having an active social life can boost mental and physical wellbeing and may even help a brain injury survivor’s recovery. Social isolation is a common problem after a brain injury, due to changes in personality, cognition and behaviour which may be difficult for friends and family to accept. Socialising becomes more challenging, and eventually many people withdraw altogether. But with the right support, it is possible to have an active and fulfilling social life after brain injury.
Improving confidence and social skills
Kirsty Agnew, Specialist Neurological Physiotherapist at Physio Matters is co-ordinating the Ambassador Scheme and said: “We are very keen for the Scheme to make a real difference to all the Ambassadors and improve their confidence and social skills. They have told us how proud they are to have been asked to undertake this role and they are excited to take part. Some have said they wished there had been something like this for them, when they first had their brain injury or their condition started. The Scheme will enable them to meet and interact with many other people and of course each other as well.
We are looking forward to working with them this year and hope that more people with a brain injury can benefit from the Physio Matters Ambassador Scheme in future years too.”
To find out more about the Physio Matters Ambassador Scheme, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0161 681 6887.
For regular updates on the Ambassador Scheme and all our new Ambassadors, follow Physio Matters on Facebook @pmneuro or on Twitter @PMneurophysio