How physio got Lewis back on the pitch

Lewis is 10. His main passion is football and he plays at a pretty competitive level. At a recent tournament he hurt his shoulder while slide tackling. He got up and tried to play on, but quickly realized something was wrong. His family took him to A&E who prescribed rest as well as painkillers.

Despite rest, no sports and regular painkillers, his condition did not improve. His parents took Lewis back to A&E a couple of weeks later. However, the diagnosis given was much the same: rest and no sports. They did give him a sling to help support the shoulder in healing, and advised him to try to continue using the shoulder to keep the muscles active.

Time drew on and the situation did not improve. Lewis was ever more reluctant to follow the hospital’s advice due to pain. This was creating a lack of confidence in moving the arm, which in turn slowed down the recovery process through inaction.

At this point, desperate for answers to what appeared now to be something more than a bruise, Lewis’s Mum decided to contact Nuffield Health, who arranged a consultation. It was decided Lewis should have an MRI scan due to the length of recovery and the continued pain. This was primarily to rule in or out any nerve issues.

“We called Nuffield in the morning to try to book an MRI,” said Lewis’s dad, “and by that afternoon he was having his scan.”

Following the results of this scan, Lewis was referred to a Physiotherapist.

The first couple of sessions of physiotherapy were naturally very uncomfortable for Lewis.

“What was important for me was the physiotherapist’s bedside manner,” said Lewis’s Dad. “He took a lot of time with Lewis to understand the reasons behind the reluctance to use the arm, and also to measure how much pain he was in before undertaking any treatment plan. We were regularly telling Lewis he had to keep using that arm to improve the healing, but kids don’t always see the value of their parents’ words.

“So when the physio engaged with Lewis, he had a tough time to help him overcome this fear of use. However, Lewis took it on board and slowly, with the physio’s guidance, started to remove the sling on a daily basis and do small, but important, guided exercises.”

Lewis’s first small victory came after a just a couple of physio sessions. His pain had decreased enough to allow him to start using his arm to eat and drink.  

From that point on his progress was fast. Lewis’s confidence to continue more challenging exercises was carefully managed in each session by the physio. 

“A willingness to try something which causes some pain is difficult to get a child to understand, even more difficult is for them to appreciate the benefits it brings” said Lewis’s Dad. However with lots of time discussing and showing how to do the exercise (and with even Dad participating), Lewis quickly learned to trust the words of the physio and was able to recover quickly.

Just four weeks after starting the physiotherapy, Lewis was able to return to the football pitch for light training.

Now he’s back, sliding into tackles with the confidence a 10 year old should have.

Last updated Tuesday 7 January 2020

First published on Monday 18 May 2015