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She is one tough Whitwell mudder runner

July 7 2017

No one was more surprised than Julia Kirby when a fluke skiing accident saw her change into a healthy-living challenge runner, but now she is preparing for her latest challenge and encouraging others to get fit.

Mrs Kirby was skiing down a gentle slope in Andorra, after successfully completing her first ever challenging black run, when a chance accident with newly-dumped snow left her with a badly twisted knee, snow burns, bruises and whiplash.

“When we arrived home, several days later, I thought I had just strained my knee,” she explained. “I waited a week but the pain didn’t improve. I had an appointment with my GP and I was told to come back if there was no improvement. 

“My knee continued to give way and standing on one leg to put on my shoes, or stretching up or getting out of a car was just impossible. I was in discomfort much of the time. My doctor sent me to Barlborough NHS Treatment Centre for a scan. ”

Mrs Kirby’s surgeon Mr Frederic Farlin explained to her that such anterior cruciate ligament repairs require patients to participate in their preparation and recovery from surgery, in order to maximise the results. Mrs Kirby rose to the challenge. 

She said: “The team at Barlborough were wonderful. The centre is beautiful and clean and I felt involved in my treatment. I think it gave me the push I needed to take on a healthier new lifestyle. 

“The physiotherapy team were wonderful. I spent an hour a week with them for six weeks and after that I started exercising in the gym. As I got fitter my diet began to improve, as it seemed to be the natural thing to do to complement the work I was doing on my fitness.”

Not content with the challenge of the gym, Mrs Kirby and husband Graham began to take on Tough Mudder challenges that saw them complete a 12-mile run incorporating mud and obstacles. The pair raised £600 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association and Thyroid UK, a charity that supports research into people living with hypothyroidism, as Mrs Kirby does.

Mrs Kirby has also taken on several Pretty Muddy challenges to raise money for Cancer Research and the couple are now planning to take on the X-Runner Wild Warrior Challenge this September in Derby.

Mrs Kirby said: “We have also been on several skiing holidays post-surgery and I have now graduated to black runs again, the slow progress only being down to my fear of injury, as opposed to my fitness levels.

“I would like to thank the treatment centre team: they made a real difference. I had never been in a gym before and had never considered going to one. You get to a point where you can’t keep taking your health for granted. It was a real wake up call.”

Elizabeth Kiss, a physiotherapist at the treatment centre, said: “We were all delighted to hear about Mrs Kirby’s achievements. From the moment surgery is agreed as the best option we work with the patient and the surgeon to ensure everything is in place so we can all work towards the best outcome.

“Our rehabilitation and discharge co-ordinators ensure that patients are assessed and that any equipment they may need to take home for their recuperation is ready for them. We work with patients on pre-operation exercises to prepare them for surgery and, within hours of surgery, we are working with them getting them back on their feet and on the road to recovery.

“For ACL operations, such as Mrs Kirby’s, we spend six weeks working with the patient at the centre for an hour each week and we then organise follow-up physio closer to their home. Patients take home booklets on exercise or they can use our free, interactive Pocket Physio apps that include videos of patients carrying out the exercises under the guidance of one of our physios.

“What we do know is that those patients who show a commitment to their recovery see the best results - and as Mrs Kirby’s case shows, they sometimes find new levels of fitness they could previously only have dreamed of.