It wasn’t until Neil Barback received physiotherapy treatment for a hockey injury at high school that he considered physio as a possible career choice.

“I had considered a job in the medical field, but medicine seemed like too much hard work! Physio appealed because it seemed to be hands-on and offer plenty of time with clients”.

Fast forward 15 years and Neil owns his own physiotherapy practice in Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty. It is a busy little practice. In any given day Neil and his staff will see people seeking treatment for everything from knee ligament repairs to neck pain. He also works alongside ACC to help people who have suffered injuries return to work.

Neil trained to be a physio at the University of Birmingham in his native England. Being dyslexic, some elements of the three-year degree were more challenging than others, but he passed with flying colours and has gone on to pursue further postgrad study.

Upon completing his degree, Neil worked at a busy hospital in Reading, England, where he got to experience many different types of physiotherapy: respiratory, stroke rehab, outpatient and intensive care. He quickly worked out that he enjoyed treating musculoskeletal injuries, but says the hospital rotation system gave him a good grounding in the various types of physiotherapy.

Neil moved to New Zealand in 2010 with his Kiwi wife and two young children. He hasn’t looked back since running his own practice.

“I like being my own boss,” says Neil. “I like having the flexibility to go and watch the kids’ school cross country or whatever. It took some time and effort to build up the practice to the point where I could take any time off, but it has been worth it.”

There aren’t too many downsides, according to Neil.

Neil makes an effort to keep on top of his professional learning and development by attending conferences and participating in PD sessions with other physios in the region.

He likes the diversity of the profession.

“I could be treating Aaron Cruden following his ACL repair, or helping an old lady maintain mobility so that she can continue to live in her own home,” says Neil.


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