AFLW player and La Trobe University physiotherapy student Libby Birch has gained new skills and experience during her placement at The Alfred, while keeping up with her training commitments with the Melbourne Demons.
“The Alfred has been terrific in making sure I can juggle both and still get the learning ad clinical experience I need. The flexibility helped me,” said Libby, who worked with intensive care unit (ICU) and cardiac patients.
Her supervisor, Senior Physiotherapist Dr Scott Bradley, oversaw Libby’s work with some of The Alfred’s critically unwell patients in ICU.
“Libby showed real dedication. She’s very organised, she did her background work,” said Dr Bradley.
Libby said her experience working with patients at The Alfred opened her eyes to what physiotherapists do in a high acuity environment.
“Until you’re in the room with the patient and their families it’s difficult to image but it’s a privilege to be involved in their care in the most challenging time of their life,” said Libby.
Dr Bradley said physiotherapist are often involved in the care of ICU patients who have life-threatening injuries or illnesses and who need specialised support.
“The reality is these patients need physiotherapy to recover, along with nursing and medial help. We see patients from very early on in their stay – beginning with respiratory care or small movements in bed, through to patients becoming more involved, sitting up on the edge of the bed and beginning to mobilize.
“Patients with broken bones and burns patients need help to get mobilised again too.”
Libby, who was part of the Western Bulldogs premiership team in 2018, is gearing up for the 2020 season with the Melbourne Demons.
“I’d love for football to become fulltime eventually, and in the meantime, I can pursue another skillset and career.
“Physios can look after injured sport plays but there is a whole other side, with different patient needs, the areas you can study as a physio are incredible.”