Newcastle’s #TeamPhysio inspired by patients to tackle Great North Run for Muscular Dystrophy UK

Five Newcastle-based physiotherapists who work with people with muscle-wasting conditions are taking on the Great North Run to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy UK.

#TeamPhysio, who are based at John Walton Muscular Dystrophy Research Centre at Newcastle University, want to raise awareness of muscle-wasting conditions and highlight the life-changing work carried out by the charity.

The group – Robert Muni Lofra, 38 (consultant physiotherapist); Phil Brown, 32 (research physiotherapist); Jassi Sodhi, 33 (neuromuscular physiotherapist); Dionne Moat, 36 (neuromuscular physiotherapist); and Cecilia Jimenez-Moreno, 34 (research physiotherapist) – work with children and adults with muscle-wasting conditions every day. The John Walton Muscular Dystrophy Research Centre, which launched in November 2014, brings together research and care for neuromuscular diseases, with the team heavily involved in both the clinical care of patients and translational research.

#TeamPhysio’s Dionne is a neuromuscular physiotherapist at the centre, and lives in Newcastle. She said:

“We chose to support Muscular Dystrophy UK because it’s a charity that is very close to our hearts. It’s an exciting time with the development of new drugs, and we see the hope this brings the families we work with, and we want to support them in any way we can.

“Unfortunately, muscle-wasting conditions are mostly progressive and our patients lose function over time. This is obviously very difficult for patients, and although we are unable to regain lost function, we can support them with exercise programmes, stretching, splints, wheelchairs, and support and advice to enable them to optimise their physical health and function.

“What surprises me on a daily basis is the grit, determination and bravery shown by our patients and their families and how positive they remain, even in the knowledge that their lives may be cut short or seriously affected by their muscle condition. Being able to support these patients to maintain an independent, happy and fulfilling life is by far the most important and rewarding part of our role.”

The Great North Run – a half-marathon through the streets of Newcastle – takes place on Sunday 9 September. #TeamPhysio, who are all employed by Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, are hoping to raise £1,200 for Muscular Dystrophy UK.

Dionne said: “We have all been training very hard for the run, but we have struggled a bit with the hot weather – something we are not used to in Newcastle! There is a bit of healthy competition between the team and we have had lots of laughs along the way, but ultimately we are doing this for our patients and that makes us do those training runs, even when we really don’t want to.

“As physios, there is a part of all of us that has enjoyed pushing ourselves physically and having a goal to work towards, so I am sure we will all be aiming to get a personal best on the day.”

Kiera Santry, Muscular Dystrophy UK’s regional development executive, said:

“We’re so grateful to #TeamPhysio for raising money for Muscular Dystrophy UK, and also for supporting people with muscle-wasting conditions day in and day out, and helping them to maintain independence.

“Every penny raised will allow us to help the 70,000 people in the UK living with muscle-wasting conditions. Without the dedication of fundraisers like #TeamPhysio, we simply wouldn’t be able to continue our work.”

Emma-Jayne Ashley and husband Pete are one of four families that set up Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Congenital Myotonic Dystrophy Fight Fund, which Cecilia is raising money for. Emma-Jayne, whose son Dregan has the condition, is also taking part in the Great North Run, along with Pete and USA supporter Ray Motlasz, who runs for Dregan as his “buddy” in the ‘I Run 4 Michael’ movement. Emma-Jayne said:

“We are delighted and honoured to be running alongside Cecilia and Ray in the Great North Run, raising funds for much-needed research into congenital myotonic dystrophy via the Fight Fund. This devastating disease currently has no treatments or cures, and we are dedicated to doing everything we can to raise awareness and help our children and loved ones.”


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