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Moving towards a career in physiotherapy

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Published on 04 January 2022

 Ines Rebelo Fonseca
Ines Rebelo Fonseca

Aged just 18, Ines Rebelo Fonseca left her home country in Portugal to study at the University of Sunderland in 2019 and became one of the first students to join a brand-new Physiotherapy course.

But the venture has more than paid off - despite having to return home during the first lockdown due to COVID-19, completing her course work online – Ines says her university experience has more than met her goals and she hopes to continue working in the region when she graduates in the summer.

Influenced to study the Physiotherapy BSc (Hons) degree, after witnessing how much the physical treatment supported her own father and grandmother’s recovery, following their neurological health issues, Ines said: “Seeing for myself how much physiotherapy can improve someone’s life personally, I knew I wanted to work in this profession and truly believe in movement as a solution to better health. The University of Sunderland certainly hasn’t disappointed.”

Ines, 20, says she had always planned to study abroad and when she was matched by an agency in Portugal with Sunderland, she was excited and nervous.

“When I first arrived, I didn’t think there would be anyone else from my country. But actually, I quickly discovered a group of students on other programmes who were also Portuguese, we’ve all ended up supporting each other. I have had a fantastic time so far. Even during lockdown, when we worked online and I headed back home, it never felt as though I missed out. The lecturers were fantastic and constantly in touch.”


As part of her programme, Ines is required to take part in two placements a year, working within the physiotherapy sector. Her most recent placement was with the Musculoskeletal Service in South Tyneside, using physical approaches towards patients in the prevention and treatment of disease, injury and disability, recognising that physical, psychological, social and environmental factors may limit movement and function.

The placement has influenced her to stay in the region and work within a NHS setting, once she graduates.

Dr John Stephens, Senior Lecturer in Physiotherapy, said: “It is a pleasure to work with all our students and particularly a student such as Ines who has set out to challenge herself in meeting her career goal. Ines is a very conscientious student whose application makes a difference in terms of her own learning but also the learning of others. To illustrate further and on a lighter note; during a conversation before a clinical placement last year, Ines disclosed that she was worried that people wouldn’t understand her spoken English. A succinct response of ‘I wouldn’t worry about that’ resulted in us both breaking out into laughter. Her performance on placement, more than justified the laughter!”