Standing up for physiotherapists and public health

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Thank you to everyone who has written or called welcoming me to my new role and offering to meet me for lunch, coffee, to tour your clinic, for a chat, or to help you navigate an issue.  I intend to accept as many of these opportunities as I can, and that includes a ‘tour’ of other parts of the province once I feel confident my little VW bug won’t get lost in a snowstorm (think spring/summer 2024). Reach out if you are interested, no matter where you’re from, so I can make every attempt to visit you – and feature you and your clinic on the PABC page!  The phone number I provided in my first CEO update is my direct cell phone (604-762-4743) and you should feel welcome to call or text me at that number. It’s the fastest way to reach me.

I’m excited to have these opportunities to meet as many of you as possible and will always take time to do just that. I want to hear what is working, what we could do better, what we should do more of, what issues we should advocate for and any ideas you have for advancing PABC and the profession.  Let’s get to know each other, and let me help you get to know each other better. What makes you proud to be a physiotherapist or a physiotherapist assistant?

And in case you just noticed, yes, I did say physiotherapist assistant.  Did you know PTAs are also members of PABC (although we have done very little to support them)? So, my apologies to our PTAs who I overlooked in my introductory note (and thank you to the PTA who called me on that). You are vital to the profession and to the work we do, and I make a commitment that as an organization, you will start to see programs and services that are specifically for you.

As I think about sharing what I hear from members, I realized there is very good place to start – and that is with my own physiotherapy story, and the amazing support I have received over the past six months from Richmond Steveston Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic.

In April of this year, I stepped out of a kayak and onto a dock. I have done this approximately ten million times throughout my life, but this time, I managed to put my foot into a hole at the same time I turned around to say something. It hurt, but like a lot of people, I more or less ignored it over the next several weeks thinking that “it will get better all by itself!”  (I imagine you all just cringed reading that, even though you know that is a very typical response for most people, no matter how many times they’re reminded that having something taken care of quickly is always better in the long run than ‘hopes and prayers.)

Unfortunately, by mid-May my ankle wasn’t feeling better which I finally mentioned to my doctor during a completely unrelated visit. “I think I did something to my Achilles…. a month or two ago”.  She gave me one of those doctors looks and said “well don’t talk to me, go see a physio”.

I went online and chose Richmond Steveston Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic and met with my new physiotherapist, Romita Fernandez. At my first appointment Romita indicated I had an injury and would begin working with me, but things weren’t terribly serious. She reminded me not to carry around anything too heavy, be careful when walking, and gave me some exercises to focus on.

That very same day, completely ignoring all of Romita’s really good advice, I was rushing to leave the house and was trying to corral my four naughty cats.  Larry (as seen here) was being difficult and so in frustration I grabbed him and headed up the stairs while he squirmed, fussed and carried on as if he was being dragged to the kitty gallows. About ¾ of the way up the stairs, I felt a pop in my calf and it HURT.  Romita and I now call this injury “the Larry”.  I don’t recommend it.  Apparently 15 pounds of mad cat does not fit the ‘do not carry around anything too heavy’ directive.

At my appointment with Romita the next day, I was still in pain and she diagnosed a new injury in my calf muscle. Eventually the whole back of my calf would turn a very lovely shade of brown/yellow/purple. This time she taped me up, gave me instructions on how and when to ice it, instructed me to buy a cane (a cheap one, because I wouldn’t be using it for long) and a reminder that “the Larry” would not be a good repeat performance.

I’ve seen Romita regularly ever since, and the injury is much better. She has been patient when I needed patience (for example, the times I’ve ignored her instructions to do my exercises regularly), firm when I wanted to throw my cane into the road and drive over it and then back up and drive over it again, sympathetic when I’ve grumbled about how I’m just going to cut off my foot and be done with it, and equally tortured when Miley Cyrus’ ‘Flowers’ plays on the office radio yet again.  Our goal is to see me back on skis this winter and I am entirely confident I will get there!

I’m excited to take on this new challenge and I am sure will be very versant in physiotherapy-speak and current issues before long, but as I start this journey, there are some things I have learned as a layman that I think British Columbians might benefit from…

  1. Don’t ask your doctor if you need physiotherapy, just go do it. You don’t need a referral. You don’t need their permission.
  2. Trust your physiotherapist to give you the straight goods and to understand when something is within their expertise. They know what they’re doing (and will not offer to do something that is more appropriately handled by a physician or surgeon.)
  3. Canes are the stuff of nightmares, although I did consider using mine to bonk people on the head when they were getting in my way at the PNE.
  4. Physiotherapy makes a huge difference when you trust yourself to the care of people who are professionals. Some things DON’T get better by themselves, don’t fully heal, and will never work as well as they did if you don’t make the effort to let a specialist help.
  5. I have no ability to put on physiotherapy tape without ending up like this… Some things are better left to the professionals.

And also (to paraphrase Romita) “Larry has legs, he can walk!”

Romita Fernandes specializes in Pelvic Health, Neurological conditions, joint and soft tissue sprains. Richmond Steveston Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic | Allied (

In addition to Romita, there is an amazing team at Richmond Steveston Physiotherapy & Sports Clinic.  Their professionalism, good humour and follow through has been great, and given me a really good introduction to the potential the profession holds.  Many thanks to the entire team:

Tammy Godfrey, Registered Physiotherapist and Owner

Aleem Dhanjee, Registered Massage Therapist

Brendan Ryley, Registered Physiotherapist

Emily Fiddy, Counsellor

Ernesto Coelho, Registered Massage Therapist

Francis Ho, Registered Physiotherapist

Jeffrey Zou, Registered Massage Therapist

Kieran Lam, Registered Acupuncturist

Leo Choi, Chiropractor

Lesia Shaikin, Body Worker

Mika Pelaez, Registered Kinesiologist

Mitali Adrekar, Registered Physiotherapist

Rafael Carol Magtibay, Registered Kinesiologist

Rucha Kashalkar, Registered Physiotherapist

Shairah Bumagat, Registered Kinesiologist

Taha El Ramly, Registered Kinesiologist

Vicky Ma, Clinical Counsellor

Are you interested in sharing what you and your colleagues and partners in your practice do?  I would love to come and visit, hear/see what you’re up to, listen to any issues or challenges you think PABC can help with, and share your story.  Connect with me at or 604-762-4743

Andrea Burton

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