In Thursday’s Youth Sport Summit, Associate Professor Lucy Lewis will discuss her research on walking sports. We caught up with her to chat about her life as a physiotherapist and how her children inspire her.
What is your role and what does your work focus on?
I’m the Academic Lead for Physiotherapy, and the Teaching Program Director for the Self-Regulating Health Professions (Audiology, Disability and Community Inclusion, Exercise Science and Physiology, Nutrition and Dietetics and Speech Pathology) in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. I’m an experienced educator and love to find new and interesting ways to teach students about physiotherapy and health.
My research focusses on investigating ways to help people move more and sit less across their lifespan, with a particular interest in older adults. I’m currently focussing on projects exploring older adults’ activity levels in the community and residential aged care, and middle-aged and older adults’ participation in walking sports (netball, soccer, basketball and football). Walking sports have gained momentum internationally as a way for older adults to engage in physical activity, socialise with others and increase community participation. Our study is investigating the activity levels and perceptions of community-dwelling older adults who engage in walking sports in South Australia.
What journey brought you to this point in your career?
After completing undergraduate degrees in Exercise Science and Physiotherapy, I was employed as a registered Physiotherapist at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. A subsequent Clinical Educator position sparked my interest and passion for education, which motivated me to complete Honours and PhD qualifications.
I subsequently undertook a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of South Australia, where I was the project lead for the Australian arm of the International Study of Childhood Obesity, Lifestyle and Environment (ISCOLE).
I moved to Flinders University in 2015 and have really enjoyed learning about and experiencing the university. I’m proud to have played a part in further establishing the Master of Physiotherapy program at Flinders, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2022.
If you could share on piece of information about your field, what would it be?
I’m passionate about teaching health professional students about the benefits of movement, and the principles of behaviour change and self-management – for themselves and for their clients.
The one thing I’d love people to know is that physiotherapists don’t just work with sporting clubs treating injuries. We are experts in a huge range of aspects of human health and movement.
Our client base includes people with burns, disability, pregnancy, stroke, chronic respiratory disorders, as well as people who have suffered some sort of injury. We also don’t just work in clinics or practices. You’ll find physios in intensive care units, emergency departments, hospital wards, rehabilitation centres, private practices, sporting organisations and aged care facilities.
We play a key role in prevention, health promotion and maintenance of function. I still remember when I first learned about cardio-respiratory physiotherapy at university and was shocked to discover that physiotherapists help people re-gain respiratory function by coughing up sputum and deep breathing after some types of injuries or surgery.
What is something you are most proud of?
I know this sounds cheesy, but I’m most proud of my family. We had two daughters while I was completing my PhD – nothing like a non-negotiable timeline to get the work completed!
I’m proud that I have been able to follow my passion and remain motivated to pursue a career in the tertiary education sector. I hope our daughters grow up to follow whatever it is that they are passionate about.
How do you like to relax or spend your spare time?
I love the water and like to spend my spare time swimming and water skiing – although now I seem to spend more time helping the kids learn on the skis! We enjoy camping and hiking, and I’m also an avid reader of anything and everything.