Damilola has a Master’s Degree in Sports and Exercise Medicine from Manchester Metropolitan University and almost a decade of experience managing musculoskeletal and sports-related injuries in private practices as well as the public health systems of the United Kingdom and Nigeria. In her various roles she has provided the whole range of sports injury-related physiotherapy: from pitch-side and track and field emergency response to post-surgery and return-to-sport rehabilitation.
As the head of the rehabilitation department in a big teaching hospital, she learned how to foster multidisciplinary collaboration with other medical professionals to achieve the best outcomes for patients.
Damilola has completed the Advanced Trauma Medical Management in Football (FA Level 5) training, and working with football players has helped her understand the need to ensure that the rehabilitative process is personalised to the athlete’s needs. Professional footballers are under immense pressure to perform at their peak consistently and depend on their physiotherapist to help them avoid or recover from injuries. This was further highlighted when she worked with Nigeria’s Special Olympics team, which required her to adapt her practice to help athletes living with disabilities to recover from injuries and resume their sports as soon as possible. “Due to the psychological pressure that injuries cause for professional as well as recreational sportspeople, I use a biopsychosocial approach to ensure that recovery is as timely and safe as possible without the athletes pushing themselves beyond the limits of their abilities,” says Damilola.
An example of her holistic approach is when a semi-professional football player who had had knee surgery contracted COVID-19 just before Damilola was about to start with his rehab program and was hospitalised for two weeks. “After his discharge, he was really deconditioned. For his rehabilitation, we did not just focus on his knee, but also on retraining his cardiovascular endurance, balance and coordination, strength and conditioning, and finally return to sport. His main goal was to return to football, but we also set various short-term goals to enable us to achieve the long-term goal.”
Damilola's own sporting interests:
“I am passionate about football. I enjoy watching and playing it, and especially the tactics fascinate me. As an undergraduate, I was asked to be a member of the medical team for a friendly international match, and the way they swiftly attended to the injured players were eye and mind opening. Hence, I started studying the sport and took courses on not just the rehabilitation of players, but also on what speeds up their rehabilitation and returns them back to sport as soon as possible. I was also inspired by a former female team doctor of Chelsea FC. This passion made me pursue the Master’s in Sport and Exercise Medicine, which really improved my practice.”
With regards to providing online physio treatment, Damilola says:
“I always tell my patients that the most important thing is not the hands-on treatment. What enhances healing and improves function are your exercises and the knowledge about your injury with which we provide you.”