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Dr Pumi Senaratne

Working at the NCSEM for over seven years, Dr Pumi Senaratne initially joined us as a specialist registrar working in our clinics, and is now a practicing consultant in Sport and Exercise Medicine. She sees patients with sport and exercise issues, muscle complaints, musculoskeletal matters, respiratory issues and any other issues that may be exercise related.

“What I really like about our clinics is that all the doctors that work in sport and exercise medicine also work with elite athletes. For example, I work with England women’s cricket and regional cricket. Being able to provide that level of care to the general public is amazing.”

“Patients can feel reassured in that these are the doctors who are dealing with professional athletes, and they are providing that same care to anyone through the NHS. I think it’s an excellent initiative that we should keep doing, because physical activity and being active is really important for lots of different reasons.”

In her foundation years as a doctor, Pumi encountered a range of patients from competitive physical contact sports, such as MMA and Muay Thai. As someone who enjoys being active and taking part in various different sports, this sparked an interest in Pumi. Although she was regularly getting questions about injuries, this was not an area covered in depth during medical school, and so she decided to pursue this area further as a pathway to specialise in.

“I started out by doing a few taster sessions in sports medicine clinics at NUH and Leicester, and then I did a fellowship in sport and exercise medicine as a GP. Just after I qualified as a GP I then went into training. The more I learnt and the more I interacted with patients, I thought ‘yeah, I should do this’.”

The main aim of Pumi’s clinics is getting you the right diagnosis.

Pumi’s clinic provides healthcare for patients with new injuries and patients with ongoing issues spanning months or years. These ongoing issues are often as a result of a misdiagnosis when their injury first presented, and so were not given the right advice for recovery. Often injuries are quicker to recover when they’re new, so it’s always best to speak to a doctor and not leave it to get worse.

“Our clinic is a one stop shop for diagnosis. We’ll take your medical history, examine you and then, depending on what you need, we can provide an ultrasound scan or send you for an MRI right there and then.”

After diagnosis, Pumi’s clinic provides a range of services in managing your recovery at the NCSEM.

For common injuries, this is usually done through a combination of physiotherapy. Sometimes patients will require an exercise programme, injections or insoles, and very rarely patients are referred for surgery.

Pumi also has sporting equipment, including a treadmill and an exercise bike, within her clinic room for patients that need to be monitored undergoing physical activity. Pumi remarks “I’ve got everything that I need and that I could imagine to see patients”.

Why Pumi loves the NCSEM

“The NCSEM is a much nicer space than other practices I work out of. Often patients referred to the NCSEM are really wowed and in awe of what a nice place it is, the whole set up provides a great environment for staff and patients. When you’re in a nicer environment, we find that patients are more motivated to work too! You just have better conversations and people are more willing to take advice on board.” 

What Pumi loves most about her clinics

Pumi’s favourite aspects of the job are the patients and the variety of cases she gets to see – from injuries as early as 6 weeks to those which have been presenting for years.

“Getting patients back to what they love doing is fantastic to see. Most patients want to get back into being active, and for those who have health issues as a result of being inactive, we’re able to provide encouragement to get them moving again. The NCSEM absolutely provides a space which helps to advance these lifestyle changes needed to get active.”

If you’re scared about getting active again

Pumi understands that there can be a lot of fear surrounding being physical active, particularly for those with chronic pain, as they worry this may lead to further damage.

“In our clinic, we want to myth bust concerns about physical activity. We’ll equip you with the knowledge and tools to manage your condition and still lead an active lifestyle.”

“At the NCSEM, we know that everyone is different and therefore everyone’s care is very individualised. That’s why we place such a huge importance on the discussions we have with that individual and so we can understand their concerns and their worries. From here we individualise plans forward to suit the patient within their personal circumstances.”

“One of the best things we do for our patients is empower them to do the things that they enjoy and have confidence in their ability to do them safely. Through our discussions with patients, we are able to provide an understanding of the nature of the issues and knowing what they can do, including how to stay active. As in any area of healthcare, sometimes there will be issues we can’t cure, but we will still be able to provide advice and empower you to reach an understanding of what is still possible.”

“It’s important to remember that we will not give you any activity that will cause you damage. Unless you’re doing things that are more competitive and physically demanding like rugby, football or racing, generally the risk of day-to-day physical activity is really low and so you’re very unlikely to do any damage. Moving more is always a good thing, and it’s about understanding the symptoms, managing it yourself and knowing your limits.”

Outside of work, Pumi loves to spend her weekends running in the Peak District with her husband and their dogs.

“I try and practice what I preach! I’m good at trying to prevent any injuries we might encounter but I’ll admit I’ve had some short lived, pretty easily manageable injuries – nothing too big!”