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A decade on: newspaper profile (2011)

The Munster Express: Friday, November 11, 2011

Embarking on a career in physical therapy

ANTHONY Flanagan was born at 100 Barrack Street in the heart of Waterford city on August 5th, 1972.

Son of the late Eddie Flanagan, who sadly passed away in 2000 and Ann Flanagan, Anthony has two brothers - Michael and Jonathan.

Late last week I paid a visit to Anthony’s home in Ballycarnane Woods in Tramore where he resides with his wife Louise and three children, Cian (12), Mia (2) and little Harry, just three months of age.

“I went to school in Mount Sion, which was handy because it was only across the road from the family home,” he said.

“When I completed my Leaving Cert I went to work with Vee Lite Lighting in the Johnstown Estate – that would have been 1989.

“Ten years later, I took up a position as manager of Esat, the mobile telephone company and remained with them until 2004 before moving on to Qualitile on the Mayor’s Walk. I loved working there and I remained on until January 2010.”

Anthony also spoke about his life away from work.

“I have always been involved in sport from an early age and I played my schoolboy football with Southend United,” he said.

“Later on I played and managed St Joseph’s and Tramore Rangers. I also played hurling with Mount Sion. I suppose my love for sport got me thinking about taking a different path and I decided to study physical therapy in Limerick.

“Also having worked in my previous three jobs I could understand the pressure people in all walks of life can come under. People who sit at computers all day, long haul drivers and builders for example can suffer back pain, and numerous other complaints.”

Anthony undertook his studies at the Institute of Physical Therapy and Applied Science at Limerick’s Mary Immaculate College (University of Limerick).

“It’s designed for mature students rather than school leavers,” he says of his course. “It prepares students to set up their own business, often from their own home and within their own communities, and that is something that I am doing.

“I’m into my second year and carrying out massage therapy at the moment. When I have completed my three-year Bachelor Applied Degree I will be fully up and running, but right now I work on muscle, tendon, ligament or joint problems.

“I am available to clubs of all sports and recently I was involved in treating runners in the Waterford Mini Marathon.”

The second most common ailment treated is neck and shoulders problems, which may or may not originate on the sports field, Anthony explained.

“Neck problems would typically lead to headaches which might also have a stress component, all of which respond to well to the unique hands-on approach,” he said.

Anthony has set up his practise in a room at his home, and he expanded a little more on the benefits of physical therapy.

“These days, people who suffer from back pain want to have it treated rather than just mask the symptoms with painkillers,” he said.

“People are increasingly aware also that bed rest is proven as being a bad way to treat the problem so they are delighted when they have an alternative that is drug free, safe and effective, and most of all available locally without the need for a doctor’s note or indeed a referral.

“Research shows that about four out of every five people suffer at some stage from back pain.

“We also know that it is episodic, that it flares up from time to time and that physical therapy, as well as diagnosis and treatment is effective in managing it because a lot of what the therapist does is to help the patient understand what is causing it, recognise the warnings and avoid the activities that will aggravate it or prolong an attack.

“Compared to surgery, physical therapy is a very cost effective treatment, and that fact is important in this day and age.”

Most people would be familiar with physiotherapy, and indeed many would have been treated that way, so I asked Anthony what was the difference between his chosen career and that of a physiotherapist.

“The educational standards are very similar, but the physical therapist is trained to work hands-on in a way that doesn’t require the use of electrical modalities such as inferential ultrasound, laser treatment or and kind of machine,” he said.

“Every treatment can be individually designed and from the initial assessment the patient becomes an active manager of their own problem, learning about it, and how it affects them.

“These days, physical therapy is a respected and established part of muscular skeletal healthcare in Ireland, and I am looking forward to being part of it all.

“As I said earlier I know lots of people from my previous jobs and from my involvement with the different sports clubs. I love nothing more than helping people recover from their ailments and I am excited about the future, I really am.”

Knowing Anthony from his playing days, both in football and hurling he’s always been a winner and I have no doubt whatsoever that he shall prove victorious in this new and exciting venture.

His enthusiasm is every ounce as infectious as it was on the playing fields of the South East for many years.

*Anthony was undertaking a three-year degree in physical therapy in Limerick when he was profiled in the Munster Express in late 2011.

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