Time with Jerry Pratt Newton
Posted on: Thu Jul 26, 2012
Jerry Pratt Newton, the club’s new physiotherapist has been around the team for some weeks following his appointment. In the interview below he tells Jerome Otchere the importance of physiotherapy and why club administrators must engage qualified medical personnel.
Kotoko Express (KE): Tell our readers a bit about yourself.
Jerry Pratt Newton (JPN): I went to Datus School Complex in Accra for my primary and Junior Secondary School education. I continued at Ghana National College in Cape Coast and then moved to the University of Ghana, Legon. I also went to Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) where I had my MBA programme. I am a physiotherapist by profession.
I am at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi; the Physiotherapy Department. I do other businesses which are however not related to Physiotherapy. While in Accra as a student, I had the opportunity of visiting the camps of teams like Great Olympics and Liberty Professionals with my lecturers to observe how they handled matters relating to physiotherapy. When I went to Takoradi after school, I worked with Sekondi Eleven Wise as their Physiotherapist. I also offered consultancy services to Sekondi Hasaacas within that time.
KE: How did you relationship with Kotoko start?
JPN: I have always been a staunch Kotoko supporter. Even at Eleven Wise, I supported Kotoko. While in Kumasi, that is when I was doing my MBA programme, I visited the Adako Jachie training ground often. I watched the team’s matches at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium. Once at the training ground, I saw Opoku Nti and introduced myself to him as a physiotherapist. I was willing to help the team. He promised to inform Coach Ebo Mends who was in-charge of the team at that time. Opoku Nti also asked me to talk to Dr. Kwaku Boateng but because the team was not performing well things were put on hold until there was stability. Management was informed about my interest. I spoke to Ben Nti and weeks later I joined the team.
KE: Exactly what does Physiotherapy entail?
JPN: In America, it is called physical therapy or physical healing. That is administering healing through physical means. When something like ice is applied during the treatment of an injured sportsman, it is physical. Electrical stimulation is physical. In the treatment of knocks, muscle tears and twisted joints, we employ physical means. That is physiotherapy. When a person sustains a joint injury physiotherapy comes in to help in restoring the function of that joint. Physiotherapy also seeks to rehabilitate and integrate the injured person so that he can do things he was doing prior to the injury. Physiotherapy plays an important role in the management and recovery of sportsmen and women. We cannot do without it.
KE: How well do our clubs handle physiotherapy issues?
JPN: It is a problem looking at things professionally. I have observed that some clubs do not have qualified physiotherapists and masseurs. Just anybody does the work for them. That is wrong. It has the potential of causing problems for the players. That partly explains why some local players suffer injuries. Our clubs do not employ qualified professionals. For example, players hide injuries and with that, you need somebody with professional eyes to detect hidden injuries.
If you take massaging, you do not massage simply because the footballer asks for it. You need to know where to massage and where not to massage; for example to massage to facilitate blood flow. Generally the situation is not a healthy one. Take Gideon Baah for instance. I can tell you that had it not been the professional handling of his case by a trained physiotherapist he probably would not have recovered so well.
KE: Is it a matter of our clubs not being able to employ and pay professionals like you?
JPN: I think is a multiplicity of factors. The first one is the fact that physiotherapy is not too popular in Ghana. There isn’t adequate knowledge on physiotherapy. Some club managers do not value the importance of physiotherapy. They really do not understand the whole concept of injury management. They are also not given the right advice. It is an issue of money because if they cannot employ professionals for full time, they can arrange for consultancy services.
KE: What do you think should be done to tackle the problem?
JPN: I think the Ghana Football Association (GFA) has to come in and insist on the best medical practices including physiotherapy. We have to incorporate physiotherapy into club administration or management. The GFA knows how important it is to have qualified medical professionals because at the national team level, they rely on qualified medical personnel. The GFA must insist on good and the best practices. It should be enforced. Premier League clubs must have qualified medical personnel either for full time or on consultancy basis.
We can spare the lower division clubs for now but under no circumstance should we take physiotherapy issues for granted. Clubs should liaise with medical professionals when it comes to the health of their players because their advice carries weight. Our clubs should also emulate best practices in Europe. During Euro 2012, you might have seen some plasters at the back of Mario Balloteli. While at training, some of our players asked me what those blue plasters were for. I explained their use to them and immediately they asked for some but we do not use them anyhow.
KE: Well, thank you for your time.
JPN: Thank you, I am also grateful.
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