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Nathalie Chua and Joseph Devlin, in their final week of placement.

For student physiotherapists, six weeks of hands-on clinical experience is a total “game changer ”, says Nathalie Chua.

Nathalie, Joseph Devlin, TJ Zimba and Gareth Ward-Allen are tauira in the fourth, and final, year of their physiotherapy studies at the University of Otago.

They have recently completed six weeks of clinical placement in the Dunedin campus clinic, Te Whare Makatea Kura Kōmiri Pai, assessing and treating patients in a private practice setting for the first time.

Clinical placements are part of the course requirement for final year physiotherapy students at Otago.

Nathalie explains that she has always wanted to be a physiotherapist, as her mum suffered with rheumatoid arthritis, and she saw the way that physiotherapy helped her to manage her condition.

“I want to help people manage their pain, and also help to empower them as well.”

Joe has slightly different motivations, he loves both sport and science and was looking for a profession which fit somewhere in between those interests.

“It's such a practical profession. Fully hands-on and independent. That's what attracted me to it.”

“We treat patients under the close supervision of our supervisors, who are available to step in if we come across something we feel like we can't handle,” he explains.

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Joseph Devlin demonstrating a neck adjustment on his supervisor, Margaret Campbell.

The Dunedin clinic is open to kaimahi, tauira and the general public.

The clinic provides management of back and neck pain, sports, gym and work injuries, balance, dizziness and concussion presentations and post-surgical recovery.

Those accessing the clinic can choose whether they want to be assessed and treated by students under the supervision of a fully qualified physiotherapist or be seen by one of the registered physiotherapists who work at the clinic.

“One of the benefits to seeing a student, alongside helping their studies, is the price. It's only $35 rather than $75 (or $15 rather than $30 for ACC visits),” says Nathalie.

The supervisors, Margaret Campbell and Ashleigh Taylor, are experts in the field of physiotherapy, with a collective 39 years of clinical experience.

Campbell lists her professional interests as delivering “person-centred” care, which uses a holistic approach to promote patient self-education and ongoing-management.

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Nathalie and Joseph showing the active patient participation element of treatment.

Taylor explains that she specialises in manual therapy and the value it has in the management of shoulder and knee injury rehabilitations.

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Nathalie Chua performing a hands-on technique to improve movement.

The Dunedin physiotherapy clinic uses a combination of these two approaches, called collaborative management.

“Collaborative management combines active participation like at-home exercises, with manual techniques in clinic,” Campbell explains.

Nathalie describes the modern, bright Dunedin clinic as providing the perfect space for this kind of combined approach to care.

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The equipment at the Dunedin clinic.

Kaimahi, tauira and the general public are all welcome to book into the clinic by following this link.

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