Fionne Austin, the owner of Blackstone Physiotherapy Clinic Dundalk, is a chartered physiotherapist and APPI Pilates Instructor.
Fionne studied in Brunel University London before travelling across the UK and to New Zealand to work in different hospitals. Fionne then returned to Ireland to work in private practice and has been a part of the Blackstone team for three years.
“I decided to start up my own franchise in Dundalk to be closer to home,” Fionne says. “It was great to have the support of the Blackstone team when setting up my own practice, I spoke to Kay McLorn, the founder of Blackstone clinics, and she was the one who suggested a franchise,” she explains. Fionne’s clinic in Dundalk opened in August 2017.
Fionne realised she wanted to do physiotherapy in fourth year of school. “I had mock interviews and I did work experience which I really enjoyed,” she says. “I really love the people element of physiotherapy, there is such variety which a lot of people don’t realise,” she says. “When I worked in the hospitals, I worked across many wards, I was in intensive care, I worked with children, the elderly, those with spinal injuries… there was also teamwork with the other doctors who were treating the patients.”
Fionne says that a big part of her job is the initial assessment. “I can have people come in off the street and I am able to determine what is wrong, what is the best care plan for them,” she says, gesturing to the people walking past the window of her practice in Williamson's Mall. “Responsibility comes with that, I have to make sure they get the best care, and sometimes that means sending them to their GP or the hospital if its more serious,” she says.
“I usually see two different types of injury in my clinic, sports-related injuries and injuries due to lifestyle issues,” Fionne explains. “Sports injuries could be like a pulled muscle, and this can be prevented by making sure you have a good training plan with adequate warm-ups,” she says. “But a lot of the injuries I see are down to the lifestyle we lead. We all simply aren’t moving enough, we get up to sit in a car to get to work, we sit at a desk all day, then we come home and sit in front of the TV,” she continues. “Years ago, we were more mobile… we need to work on trying to balance our lifestyle so we are eating healthy and getting enough exercise.”
Fionne offers some simple tips we can all use to try and move more. “Take the stairs instead of the lift, walk to school if you’re in close by, try to teach good habits to children… we pack our lives so full nowadays and our health isn’t prioritised.”
Fionne also gives advice to Dundalk people who may be suffering from an injury. “The treatment and advice we offer varies depending on the severity of the pain,” she says. “For example, if you have mild to moderate back pain, heat can be very effective in relieving some of the symptoms. You should also combine rest with movement. If you don’t rest, it will be harder for your back to settle,” she explains. “But you also need move, so go for a walk for 20 minutes, then rest for another 20, do some yoga for ten, sit down for ten, and always gauge your pain levels,” she adds. Fionne advises to go see a physiotherapist if your pain hasn’t subsided in a week.
Fionne also says you should never ignore an injury. “I don’t think you would make it any worse, but it will definitely take you longer to recover. There is a possibility that your symptoms would linger,” she says. “Also, if you are in pain, chances are you will be grumpy and you’ll be making everyone else grumpy too,” she jokes.
Fionne also outlines what she does in her Blackstone Clinic in Dundalk. “I look at physiotherapy as a team effort,” she smiles. “I can give a client short-term pain relief, and I can advise them on how to make lifestyle changes so they don’t hurt themselves again... I also give them exercises to do at home to help speed up the recovery,” she explains.
Fionne also has Pilate classes in her Dundalk practice. “I have four classes currently, two beginner classes, one intermediate and a synergy class,” she reveals. “The synergy classes are for people who may struggle to get off the floor or have balance problems, so I would have older people attending this one,” she says. “Pilates is proven to have great benefits for people who are at risk of falls… also, because the classes are physio-led, I can advise people on that level and adapt the class to suit their needs,” she says. “My classes are small, and there is also a social element, you can bring your friends or meet new people.”
If you are interested in joining a Pilates class or think you might need physiotherapy, call Fionne on 042 9327836, or call into 18 Williamson's Mall.