Top city physio helps to rescue ski doctor Sarah

A Sheffield doctor who feared she may never run again following a skiing accident has been helped back on her feet by Sheffield Sports Medicine and Physiotherapy.

Sarah Willcock, 33, who lives in Handsworth, moved to Wanaka, New Zealand, in June last year to start a three-month job as a ski doctor. However, a month after she started, she fell off a drop while skiing on her day off and tore four ligaments in her knee.

She went straight to hospital and had to undergo surgery five days later.

After she was able to fly home, she was recommended by former work colleagues at Sheffield's Northern General Hospital to Dr Michael Lee, a specialist in sports physiotherapy and part of Sheffield Sports Medicine and Physiotherapy.

Sarah said: "I was keen to have someone help me who was experienced and who had a good record of helping people in similar situations.

"It's not your everyday knee injury. Most serious knee injuries tend to be single ligament injuries, such as anterior cruciate knee ligament injuries or something similar, but I'd suffered total ruptures which make it a lot more complicated."

After initial surgery in New Zealand to reconstruct Sarah's shattered knee, she flew home in October last year to start physiotherapy with Dr Lee.

Now she is doing regular exercises to rebuild the muscles in her entire leg, from hip to toes, and although she is still some way off being able to get back into her favourite sport, mountain biking, Sarah is well on the way to a full and miraculous recovery.

"I still can't do a lot of things but importantly I can walk. I'm extremely keen to get back doing the things I was doing before the crash. It's improved dramatically, being able to walk is brilliant but I want more!" said Sarah.

"My requirements and the level of rehabilitation which I need are obviously a lot different to those of say, an elderly lady who needs to be able to get up to make the tea.

"The high-end physio exercises are gruelling, beyond what many healthy but non-sporty people can manage."

At first, Sarah's injury was so painful that she found it tough to stand on crutches, and didn't have the confidence to put all her weight on her right knee, but thanks to the surgery performed by surgeons in New Zealand, as well as the physiotherapy with Dr Lee, she is now harbouring hopes of being able to continue with sports like skiing and mountain biking.

"I've been on gentle bike rides around places like the Trans Pennine trail, but it doesn't compare to what I want to be doing.

"Mountain biking is a huge sport in Sheffield, and it's been my favourite sport growing up, so I'm itching to get back on my bike."

It wasn't all bad news for Sarah though as just weeks after the accident, Sarah's boyfriend Antony proposed to her, and they are due to get married this summer.

"It was quite a contrast between a horrific crash and getting engaged within weeks of each other!" said Sarah.

Dr Lee, who is a consultant sports physiotherapist and sports scientist said: "The importance of physiotherapy in the recovery from a serious injury such as the one Sarah suffered is sometimes overlooked in favour of drastic surgery.

"Of course, in Sarah's case surgery was essential to ensure that she would be able to walk, run and play sports again, but once the initial emergency had been averted, physiotherapy was an important option for her. I'm proud to have helped Sarah back on her feet."