Interview with Dharini Rochani – Sports Physiotherapist looking after female cricketers in India

Dharini Rochani was always fond of reading and learning human anatomy. She was always intrigued by the medical profession and wanted to live a doctor’s life, understand their psychology, their profession and help people. Soon after her 10th board exams, she knew she had to pursue medical studies which led her to take up Biology as subjects in 11th and 12th grade. Little did she know that this small step early in her life will help her pursue her dream job – working with cricket associations and help female cricketers heal their pain.

In an EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Team Female Cricket, Dharini speaks about how her career shaped, the story behind her success, sports physiotherapy in India, some common injuries and moreover how can someone make a career in this field.

Dharini Rochani Interview with Female Cricket
Dharini Rochani Interview with Female Cricket

1. Did you always have an inclination towards sports? Why did you choose this field?

Yes, I always had an inclination towards sports (specifically Sports Rehabilitation on Field followed by Off- Field). Since I was in 2nd year of Bachelor of Physiotherapy (B.P.T.). During my graduation, most of my seniors use to guide me that “Start preparing for Orthopedics (subject in 3rd year) early, otherwise you will fail as it’s difficult to remember.” Since then I took it as a challenge and I searched what is so difficult to learn
in Orthopedics. Slowly I loved that subject more than any other and out of 60 students in my batch only 11 of us passed and I scored highest of all in Orthopedics.

Gradually I started developing more interest in Sports injuries and Sports Medicine. On the other hand, I was a Bharatnatyam Dancer. I have completed 7 years of classical training from South Gujarat University. However, due to continuous injuries and no specific guidance for diagnosis and treatment, I had to stop my dance practice. Hence, I started developing my own interest to solve my complaints of pains and injuries followed by helping athletes.

2. What was your first assignment after completing your studies? Any challenges that you faced in your early days?

I completed my Masters from Kasturba Medical College, Manipal University, Mangalore in Aug. 2016. As usual, after completion of studies, we need to have some work area to earn because I had taken an education loan for bachelors and master’s both. Therefore, I got an opportunity to work as Assistant Professor, in one of the deemed universities near Dist. Anand, Gujarat.

I use to take lectures for 3rd year BPT, 4th-year BPT, 1st year and 2nd Year MPT students. My main subjects were – ” Community Medicine, Women Health and Ergonomics for Undergraduates and Women Psychology, Sports Rehabilitation for postgraduates. However, I was not satisfied with the area I wanted to work in. Hence, I was continuously trying to apply in sports-specific on-field areas.

3. Tell us about your stint with Baroda Cricket Association? How did that happen?

Baroda is my native, hence I had applied in Baroda Cricket Association as a normal applicant and was called for the first interview. As I was being found competent, I was called for the 2nd Interview and was appointed out of 5 candidates who were shortlisted for 2nd call of the interview.

4. What roles does a physiotherapist play in sports?

Role of a Sports Physiotherapist is – to be a part of a medical team for sports Injury prevention and management, Performance enhancement, inculcating safe and active lifestyle, Educating players about the importance of human motion as sports-specific requirements and to have Ethical and evidence-based practice.

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Dharini Rochani Interview Female Cricket
Dharini Rochani Interview Female Cricket

5. How is physiotherapy different from a sports physiotherapy?

In India Physiotherapy includes specialization (MPT) in total 5 main subjects that are MPT- Orthopedics and/Or Sports Rehabilitation, MPT- Neurology, MPT- Paediatrics, MPT- Cardio-Respiratory conditions, MPT- Community Physiotherapy/ Rehabilitation. As per the specialization, there are different and specific physiotherapeutic techniques for each specialization. Therefore, Sports physiotherapists mainly deal with
musculoskeletal injuries and management including medical emergencies, followed by sports specific rehabilitation to get the player on the field. Also, the aggression of treatment decisions made for the players is sport-specific.

Also Read: Sports psychology in cricket – How do Mithali Raj & Sarah Taylor develop mental toughness?

6. Talk to us about your first cricket assignment being a sports physiotherapist?

As an enthusiast to be in Sports Rehabilitation I choose women cricket as a game to work. The main reason was women all together have a different body including muscle type, bone strength, and mechanics compared to males. Moreover, cricket includes different areas like Bowling, Batting, wicket keeping, and Fielding. Each area of cricket will have different mechanics. Therefore, each specialized mechanics and gender
difference needs specific and different approaches to treatment. Hence, it gives me immense satisfaction to work for women athletes specifically.

Fortunately, I got an opportunity to work for women athletes of the Baroda Cricket Association. I had worked for Women Cricket Wing (Senior and Junior Teams) of Baroda Cricket Association from Aug. 2017 to May 2019 (Two cricket seasons). My main goal was on Injury Prevention Followed by Injury management. Indeed I had a very good time with the young athletes at Baroda Cricket Association.

7. What are the most common injuries among cricketers, particularly female cricketers? What causes them?

As of now, there is a lack of evidence with literature providing data on most common injuries specific to Indian women cricketers. However, the most common injuries found in women are Knee Injury, Shoulder Pain, Ankle Sprains and Back pain. These are found more commonly due to altered body mechanics and Hormone functions in the female body.

Dharini Rochani with Jhulan Goswami
Dharini Rochani with Jhulan Goswami

8. What precautions can the girls take to avoid future injuries?

Following are the precautions to prevent injuries:

— Do not avoid small niggles and pains
— Maintain Menstrual health check-up regularly.
— Learn sports specific training as per the female human body mechanics
— Learn the importance of duration of Fitness and Recovery equally
— Monitor workload daily.
— Learn the importance of Nutrition and Hydration in Fitness and Injury

Also Read: Complete Guide to Fitness exercises and drills for Cricketers

9. Does the treatment approach differ from player to player? How do you identify that?

Yes, the treatment approach differs from player to player. The identification of differences is based on the clinical examination and clinical application of a Physiotherapist. There are specific examination tests through which we can be more precise in our treatment.

10. How can one start his/her sports physiotherapy career today?

To start a career in sports physiotherapy, I would recommend that It’s very important to have an interest in sports. After completing Bachelor’s in Physiotherapy (BPT), one should join Masters in Physiotherapy (MPT) in Sports Rehabilitation.

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11. One mistake a lot of aspiring physiotherapists (sports) commit? Your advice on that?

Some Physiotherapists having their own interest in sports rehabilitation, change their subject of specialization based on the statistics of requirements/ vacancies. I would recommend following your own interest which gives you the satisfaction of work. In other words, choose the subject which you like to work on.

12. Which are some of the best colleges/institutes in India you would recommend for pursuing sports physiotherapy?

There are many reputed institutes in India for pursuing Masters in Physiotherapy – Sports rehabilitation. Each institution has its own importance. It actually depends on an individual what do they plan to learn and work for. I had selected university for my Masters based on the Guide I wanted to learn from. In my personal opinion, I would recommend – Manipal University, D. Y. Patil university- Mumbai, NMIMS – Mumbai, and Gurunanak Dev University- Amritsar.

13. What’s the pathway (eligibility criteria) to get physiotherapy accreditation from National Cricket Academy?

The eligibility criteria for accreditation from National Cricket Academy are specified by BCCI. You may follow the website for details as they keep on upgrading things based on evidence.

14. Are the physios given enough recognition and validation in a team’s/players’ success?

Yes indeed, Physios have been given enough recognition for player’s success in some of the states.

15. What % of cricket playing boys/girls consult a physio today? Has the % changed over the years?

As of now there is no data available on Indian women cricket injuries and reported cases to Physios. However, health awareness has been improved among professional cricketers over the years.

16. Is a career in sports physiotherapy a commercially viable business today?

Yes, it is.

17. Are there any myths / pre-conceived notions related to physiotherapy that you have come across from the patients?

Myths/ Preconceived notions by patients coming for Physiotherapy are:
— Physiotherapist is a massage therapist
— Physiotherapist just use machines to treat patients

18. After your successful stint with Baroda Cricket, you have been appointed by the Andhra Board as a physio for their women’s team? How has it been so far?

I joined Andhra Senior Women’s Team on 05.08.2019. It’s just a month of my joining. So far it has been great and I feel blessed to be a part of the Andhra Cricket Association. I hope the coming season goes great for our young athletes.

Also Read: Ultimate Guide to Diet-Meal Plan and Nutrition recommendations for an aspiring female cricketer

19. Being a sports physiotherapist, has there been any special/memorable point in your career?

There have been many memorable incidences being a physio for women cricket teams. However, the best one was treating a player overnight to get her ready for the next day morning match with more challenges and watching her hit match-winning six and boundaries. It was indeed an eye-pleasing and satisfying sight.

20. What are your future ambitions/goals?

My future ambition is to keep myself upgraded with the latest physiotherapeutic techniques as a health care provider. Moreover, to serve the best for the people who need me.

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