The guys who fix our bro­ken men

City Press gets to know two phys­ios who work won­ders on in­jured soc­cer play­ers

CityPress - - Sport - TIM­O­THY MOLOBI tim­o­thy@city­press.co.za

The first peo­ple who run to the field when a player is down are the phys­io­ther­a­pists. Not only that, they are also the last ones, with doc­tors, to ad­vise on whether a player can con­tinue with play. Phys­io­ther­a­pists make sure play­ers are in a good enough con­di­tion to take to the field. And when a player is in­jured, they are in charge of the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion process. Ever won­dered why Or­lando Pi­rates’ goal­keeper Brighton Mh­longo was back to the field be­fore the pro­jected lay-off pe­riod was over? He was meant to be out of ac­tion for at least three months af­ter suf­fer­ing a knee in­jury, but was be­tween the sticks again within six weeks. He was on the bench when Pi­rates took on Étoile du Sa­hel in the CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup fi­nal in Soweto and trav­elled with the team to Tu­nisia for the sec­ond leg.

It’s of­ten thanks to phys­ios, such as those from Phaswana and Maz­ibuko Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Ser­vices, that play­ers can re­turn to ac­tion ahead of time.

Room 939 of the Louis Pas­teur Pri­vate Hospi­tal is the go-place for crocked play­ers. The Pre­to­ria-based phys­io­ther­a­pists’ con­sult­ing room is a hive of ac­tiv­ity, not only for sports­peo­ple, but pa­tients who want to re­turn to ac­tive lives.

Many play­ers have limped to the hos­pi­tal in Pre­to­ria to visit Lu­tendo Phaswana (37) and Sipho Maz­ibuko (39), who met at the Med­i­cal Univer­sity of SA (Me­dunsa), now the Se­fako Mak­gatho Health Sciences Univer­sity, when study­ing to­wards a BSc in phys­io­ther­apy. The two have es­tab­lished a good work­ing re­la­tion­ship with Or­lando Pi­rates, as most of their play­ers are now cared for by the duo.

They are fast be­com­ing the go-to phys­ios for many foot­ball play­ers be­cause of their ef­fec­tive­ness and pur­ported “heal­ing power”.

“This is where we have saved many play­ers’ ca­reers,” quipped Phaswana dur­ing a City Press visit to the hos­pi­tal last week. “We don’t have any se­crets – we just ap­ply the ba­sic prin­ci­ples of medicine. We are there to treat pa­tients through phys­i­cal means and fa­cil­i­tate body re­pair.”

They have al­ready helped the likes of Siyabonga Sang­weni, Rooi Ma­hamutsa and Wil­liam Twala to get back on their feet.

Pi­rates cap­tain Oupa Many­isa is un­der­go­ing re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion on his an­kle at their prac­tice and they be­lieve it will not be long be­fore he re­joins his team-mates.

Maz­ibuko dis­closed that, con­trary to what many peo­ple be­lieve, phys­io­ther­a­pists are first-line prac­ti­tion­ers and one does not need a re­fer­ral let­ter to con­sult them.

Whereas other phys­ios fo­cus on mak­ing sure pa­tients re­gain move­ment and are able to get back to nor­mal life, Phaswana says their pri­or­ity is mak­ing sure that ath­letes can re­turn to the field as soon as pos­si­ble.

The duo man­aged to near-mirac­u­lously get an in­jured Andile Jali back to goalscor­ing ways within two days. “He was sched­uled for a shoul­der op­er­a­tion on a Thurs­day af­ter he did an MRI scan, which found he had a tear. He could not lift his shoul­der 90 de­grees. We saw him be­fore the op­er­a­tion and helped to re­lieve the pain by align­ing his bones and re-ed­u­cat­ing the mus­cle,” said Maz­ibuko.

“This worked won­ders, as he was fit to play on the Satur­day in the MTN8 fi­nal and even scored from the penalty spot. If you re­mem­ber his cel­e­bra­tion, it was like he was flap­ping wings – to show that his shoul­der was okay.” They also man­aged to have Mh­longo back in ac­tion be­fore the pro­jected time. “It was re­ported that Brighton would be out for up to three months, but we man­aged to get him back within six weeks. When he first came here, we asked him what his wish was and he said he’d be happy if he could be back be­fore the Con­fed Cup fi­nal – and we man­aged ex­actly that, partly be­cause of his com­mit­ment to the pro­gramme and his men­tal strength,” said Maz­ibuko.

Their prac­tice has been in ex­is­tence for more than two years, but was only reg­is­tered of­fi­cially this year.

“Our aim is to em­power black phys­ios, as we have re­alised we are still lag­ging be­hind. We need to in­crease the in­ter­est among black peo­ple be­cause there is a need for more phys­ios in the coun­try. We have al­ready started men­tor­ship pro­grammes at Tem­bisa Hospi­tal and Ge­orge Mukhari in Ga-Rankuwa as a way of giv­ing back to our com­mu­ni­ties. More­over, we are spon­sor­ing one fi­nal-year stu­dent at Me­dunsa be­cause we are also ex­ter­nal ex­am­in­ers there.”

Phaswana said he got into the pro­fes­sion af­ter be­ing ex­posed to the field when his cousin was at­tended to by phys­ios.

“The first ‘Dr’ I saw when I grew up was a phys­io­ther­a­pist be­cause one of my cousins was strug­gling with move­ment. He would come to stretch him and help with his move­ment, and that’s how I got hooked. And it had a fancy name.”

As for Maz­ibuko, he was ex­posed to the pro­fes­sion through foot­ball. “I was in­jured when I was in high school and my first en­counter with a physio was some­thing else. The treat­ment was dif­fer­ent, and I was fas­ci­nated by the ap­proach.”

They have no in­ten­tion of join­ing any club and pre­fer to work on a con­sul­tancy ba­sis.

“We do what we love and we love what we do.”

PHOTO: MUZI NTOMBELA / BACK­PAGEPIX

NOT OUT Jali al­most mirac­u­lously played in the fi­nal of the MTN8 against Plat­inum Stars 10 days later

PHOTO: SYD­NEY MAHLANGU / BACK­PAGEPIX

DOWN Andile Jali was in­jured in a league game against Polok­wane City in 2013

PHO­TOS: DEN­VOR DE WEE

HARD AT WORK Maz­ibuko (right)

Lu­tendo Phaswana (left) and Sipho

DOC­TOR’S OR­DERS Phaswana says he has a for­mula to help play­ers re­turn to ac­tion quicker

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