My Personal Story
At the age of 8, due to prolific bullying at school because of my learning disabilities, I begun studying Martial Arts to support my mental health and physical safety. Having gained two black belts in two disciplines, I continue to practice and challenge myself each day in the practice of Asian martial arts.
After school, I eagerly pursued a career in electro-mechanical engineering. I benefited from some incredible opportunities as the lead engineer designing a range of innovations, from extreme environment hydraulic systems for heavy lifting vehicles to radio communications systems for our emergency services.
During this time my health deteriorated and at 22 years of age I weighed in at nearly 20 stone (10 stone over my healthy weight). I also suffered a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and a pulmonary embolism (PE). Eight months later I returned to work weighing in my ideal body weight of 10 stone. This was all thanks to the health and fitness industry and finding an incredible aerobics instructor called Sally-Ann Raffell, who truly saved my life.
The first Gulf War brought with it industrial recession and my opportunities to continue as a design engineer in the UK came to a dramatic end. In a twist of fate, there was another place for me and there’s no doubt in my mind that I owed my life to it – the health and fitness industry. I qualified in 1991 as a Personal Trainer and carried my enthusiasm for, and all the challenges it presented to, countless clients. These included the general public, celebrities and Olympic athletes and I went on to build and run a very successful business.
On a cold October morning in 2007, I woke to discover that I couldn’t move or feel my legs. After seven days in hospital, with diagnoses such as Guillain Barre Syndrome being discussed, I was finally diagnosed with retro spondylolisthesis and having two prolapsed lumbar discs. If that wasn’t unwelcome news enough, the consultant told me ‘You’ll never run, lift weights or do Martial Arts again’. Disappointingly, I had spent 12 months seeing many professional clinicians with symptoms that I now know were all signs of a ticking time bomb in my spine. That was a Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD-1) metamorphosing to a Musculoskeletal Disease (MSD-2) which could have left me with a Musculoskeletal Disability (MSD-3).
Believing that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, I changed direction within the health and wellbeing arena. I retired from Personal Training early and went back to school, well, university actually. I really needed to understand ‘how’ this had happened to me, but also how I could prevent it happening to others. As a result, I qualified as a Clinical Anatomist at Keele University in 2011 and as a Clinical Biomechanist at the University of Chichester in 2013. Both institutions and qualifications provided me with the tools to help me to develop a protocol to stop MSDO becoming a debilitating burden on the world’s economy and health.
My ethos is to continue to work alongside united teams of elite professionals who want to integrate their skills to bring the best possible approach to a patient’s health and wellbeing. In fact, collaborative working is vitally important to me.
My approach to a patient’s wellbeing is similarly ‘holistic,’ one where the biological (biomechanics and physiology of biological structures), psychological (thoughts, emotions, nutrition and behaviors), and social (socio-economical, socio-environmental, and cultural) factors, all play a significant role in human functioning in the context of disease or illness.