Interview with Niranjan Pandit (Physiotherapist) National Cricket Academy, BCCI.

1. Tell us about your experience with National Cricket Academy, BCCI

It is a privilege to work within elite Indian cricket ecosystem at the highest level as National Cricket Academy (NCA) is the main center for injury rehabilitation and training for all players. The structured framework of working, making decisions with and for the best players in the country for their injury rehab and getting them back into action in a timely and safe manner considering the busy calendar of international cricket are the things that make this work exciting for me. There has been plenty of new learning and exposure to advanced sports technology to be integrated in assessments and rehab to get accurate data on players physical parameters and track progress. Getting to work with a multi-specialty team of professionals for injury management as we study in textbooks in real life has given me a wide perspective to injury rehab. It has reinforced my thought process that there can be various approaches to one problem, and one has to choose the best possible one in each scenario. The work satisfaction is immense when players gets back in action after all the effort put in their road to recovery. Players appreciate the support and care they get during the recovery process as injury is always a low time for them and they are looking for that professional guidance and support to make a come-back as early as possible.

2. Tell us about your interests in Manual Therapy. Do you feel that this technique is charismatic with special reference to Sports Physiotherapy?

Fresh from graduation, I always had a keen interest in manual therapy as it is based on the concept of clinical reasoning and is guided by lot of hands-on assessments. Learning different concepts and techniques in manual therapy targeting joints, soft tissues and neural tissue is been an interesting part of the journey. However, over years I have come to realize that manual therapy is one of the components of the jigsaw puzzle and not the entire picture itself. It must be used judiciously and in combination with various other components of the rehab process like exercises, activity pacing and modification and a detailed understanding of pain science. Knowing when to go ahead with hands-on treatments and when to back off from manual therapy and work with other treatment approaches is an important factor in treatment success.

3. How much has Sports Physiotherapy gained momentum in present times as compared to when you began your career?

I see a big shift in the sporting ecosystem in the way physiotherapy is perceived by athletes and other stakeholders. Once based a lot on passive treatments and a standard set of exercises it has come a long way where active interventions have taken precedence and sports specificity in advanced rehab is being paid attention to. Incorporating technology in assessments to get more objective data and minimize subjective variability in assessments is increasing in physiotherapy practice. Athletes rely on physiotherapists as more advanced knowledge and understanding emerges based on ongoing research which help physios and athletes to make informed decisions and make a safe and early return to sport after injuries. Mitigating injury risk with early identification of issues in asymptomatic athletes (primary prevention) makes the role of physiotherapy even more important from an athlete’s point of view.

4. You have worked with so many players. What impression do they have of Physiotherapy initially and when do they realize its magic?

Awareness about physiotherapy has been growing in players in structured sport. Players are aware about different physiotherapy treatment options and respect the fact that it is not only about injury rehab but also helpful in minimizing injury. Some acknowledge the fact how prehab exercises have helped them prolong their career by a season or two towards the end of the career.

Looking at the grassroot level or sporting bodies who still do not have an organized structure, players generally meet a physio for a niggle or injury, and it is surprising that many of them have never undergone a structured physiotherapy treatment and rehab program before that injury. However, in my experience it does not take more than one session for these players to realize that this missing component of physiotherapy in their routine schedule can be a game changer. And that is it! They just jump at this opportunity to get physio programs as a part of their routine training. After all who doesn’t want an injury free season.

5. What are your areas of interests apart from Sports Physiotherapy?

I love music and have trained in singing for a few years. Music is a great stress buster and helps me taking my mind off work when I have to be in switched off mode from work. Travel is another aspect which I enjoy and as it also comes with the nature of my work that is a big win-win situation for me.

6. Please elaborate your experience working in International Tennis Federation (Men’s, women’s, and junior’s circuit)

Working with tennis was a different experience as it was my first exposure to an individual sport as compared to working in a team environment. Getting to work with elite Indian as well as overseas players on the circuit improved my understanding on subtle differences in training methods and physiotherapy system in different countries. It also helped me broaden my understanding of injuries as the movement and injury patterns are different with each sport. And even beyond physiotherapy it gave me a perspective towards different cultures as in one given tournament you would see athletes from many different nationalities. 

7. Please share your experience working with Rajasthan Royals in IPL?

IPL gave me a very intense exposure to elite cricket as the nature of competition is such. The challenge is constant travel and managing players with time crunch as you travel so frequently and have matches every second to third day. So being effective with what you do, staying on top of work and keeping players fit and available in a high-stake environment was mentally very stimulating as it made me think out of the box for solutions. The learning has been immense as with every season of IPL it made me think what is it that I can bring to the table to help the players train and recover better. Working with my mentor John Gloster at Rajasthan Royals really helped me improve further on various aspects of physiotherapy which is important in elite sport.

8. Do you feel there is need of continuous upgradation of knowledge and skills among Physiotherapists?

Absolutely! As physiotherapy is a science and science keep evolving, it goes without saying that continuing professional development is the key to improve your knowledge and skill set. Whether this is in the form of group learning like degree/diploma education, courses, workshops, seminars or individual learning like journal articles, podcasts or e-learning.

9. Message for upcoming Physiotherapists?

For being a good practitioner, it is extremely important to not only get as much knowledge and understanding as possible but also to apply that knowledge and skills and to review and critique your practice from time to time. We need to be open minded to interact with peers and colleagues and brainstorm ideas with them which gives a different perspective than ours to the same problem. Working in environments that allows you to think open minded and have fruitful interaction with colleagues is especially important for growth as a professional. I would also reiterate that continuing professional development is a key component to evolve as a clinician as science always keeps evolving. And last but not the least it is always good to have a go to person or a ‘Mentor’ for those difficult scenarios where you need help and guidance as you will never know everything and there is always someone out there who knows and has seen a bit more than you have.




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