Behind the scenes of Team GB's Intensive Rehabilitation Unit

27 June 2013 / 14:30

For elite athletes the process of injury rehabilitation can be a long and arduous process, but Team GB’s athletes have a secret weapon in the search for faster rehab.

Bisham Abbey’s Team GB – Intensive Rehabilitation Unit (IRU), a partnership between the British Olympic Association (BOA) and the English Institute of Sport (EIS), aims to ensure that the highest quality of sport science, medicine and therapy support is available to our athletes in preparation for competition.

And with free treatment available to any athlete referred by their national governing body or Home Country Sports Institute, it is no wonder there’s a waiting list.

Treatment at the Unit covers seven disciplines; physiotherapy, physiology, strength and conditioning, nutrition, psychology, sports medicine and massage, with a maximum of three athletes receiving treatment per week.

The Unit’s nine staff are dedicated to getting athletes back into competition, faster, stronger and more mentally prepared than ever before. And Greg Retter, the Unit’s Rehabilitation Manager, feels the secret to their success is the all-encompassing nature of their residential setup.

“The key difference is the time we spend unpicking some of the problems and putting them back together so the athlete can progress in a way that’s much more accelerated from where they might usually be,” he said.

“This gives them an option to refocus, to look at where they’re at in their rehab and allows us to say ‘we think you’re here, and these are the problems we’ve identified’.”

British Bobsleigh driver Paula Walker is the latest athlete to make use of the state-of-the-art facilities at the IRU.

The Vancouver 2010 Olympian sustained a knee injury during Christmas 2012 that eventually required surgery in May. After a week-long visit to Bisham later that month she returned for a second stint at the IRU this week and is already feeling the benefits.

“I was definitely worried for my career, it played heavily on my mind,” she said.

“But here you get the whole package. I’ve improved massively since I was here five weeks ago, the gains I’ve made are phenomenal.

“I’m pretty much feeling the best I’ve felt in my whole career, even post operation, so this extra week is going to push me on no end for the coming season.”

That news delighted British Bobsleigh Performance Director Gary Anderson as the clock ticks ever closer to February 2014 and the Sochi Olympic Winter Games.

“Paula’s here because there isn’t a lot of time left and we need to do everything we can to get her back because she is a genuine medal hope,” he said.

“We’re delighted she’s here because the IRU gives us great service and we have always worked well with them. We are really pleased with Paula’s progress.”