Founder, Physio Centers of Africa.
Many people consider healthy livelihood as a good way of living. It is said that physiotherapy is important in this aspect. Physiotherapy helps people with situations whereby their movement and functions are vulnerable due to the process of ageing, injury or being infected by a disease. This method of healing uses non-surgical methods in the treatment and/or management of numerous and physical conditions such as strokes, back pains, heart disorders, asthma and lifestyle conditions.
Physiotherapy comes a long way and its advancement to the present day owes much to research based practice.
“physiotherapy is extremely important in modern health”, says Ngozi Edozien, founder of Physio Centers of Africa, a holistic physiotherapy & wellness clinic. “People are often used to being treated with drug therapy and the reality is that in many issues your body can actually create healing within itself. And its important to balance drug therapy, surgery and physical physiotherapy in order to get better. So I would rate physiotherapy as one of the underutilized treatments that can help many many conditions both physical and some even mental and also urological”.
Physio Centers of Africa came to be in July 2018 with a vision to provide the highest standard of treatment, servicing a wide variety of clientele from elite level athletes to children or the elderly
CEO and Founder of Physio Centers of Africa, Ngozi Edozien talks about the state of wellness, engagement, what the future of wellness looks like and so much more!
Growing up, were you always interested in sports and physical activity?
I always was. As a matter of fact, I have been an athlete pretty much my whole life. I started doing sports at a very young age. About 5-6. I started with swimming mostly because I was asthmatic, and my father wanted me to learn how to breath properly and so he put me on the swimming team and most mornings during the weekends I would go for swimming team classes. I wasn’t a very good swimmer and I actually didn’t enjoy it very much so I eventually moved from swimming and about the age of 10 I joined a track and field team and I started running doing sprints and hurdles. Before that I used to play football soccer so throughout elementary school, junior high school and my secondary school even university. I was a competitive athlethe. My younger years it was track and field, football-not American football, football proper, basket-ball and then I eventually left the other two during University and concentrated track and field where I did the 100 meters, 200 meters, 100 meter hurdles, 4 by 1, discuss and the hammer throw.
What specifically, drew you to the business of physiotherapy?
Well, I have never really worked in physiotherapy area. I am not a physiotherapist. I am really a businessperson. But what drove me to launching Physio Centers of Africa was actually a personal situation. So my father had spine surgery and he was 92 when he had this surgery. We flew him out to the United States for the surgery and while I was there what we saw was what they did with the post op in terms of the physiotherapy putting him into in-patient rehab, The physiotherapists who came on a daily basis to be able to get him out of bed etc. Its one thing to have a successful surgery but the recovery from that successful surgery required physiotherapy. So I just observed all of these the whole time he was there for over a year; the impact the physio had on him and his recovery. And then my mum after sometime got tired of being in the US, she really wanted to come home but my father still needed quite a lot of physio. So we started to look around and that’s when I realized we didn’t really have proper physiotherapy and rehab practices in Nigeria. We had some but it wasn’t really done in a very fulsome way as a full business in terms of what I had seen overseas and what I had personally also experienced not just from my father but as a recovering athlete from injuries and so I decided that it seemed like something I wanted to do and that is how I entered into this business of Physiotherapy.
If you ever personally needed physiotherapy, what 3 qualities would you want your physiotherapist to have?
Oh Wow! I think the first thing that is important to me about physiotherapy is that it is technical and I believe it is important for a good physiotherapist to have extra ordinary medical knowledge in terms of physical issues and the neurological issues that lead to the body actually healing itself. So the technical knowledge is the first thing. And then the second thing that is really critical is their manual knowledge and the actual practice of the manual techniques which are necessary. And I have seen that create wonders. I think the third thing is that a good physiotherapist has to have very good bedside manners. That bedside manner is the ability to manage, listen, the ability to feel what the patient is feeling and understand how to encourage and motivate their patients to pursue their therapy and work through pain, work through the issues that actually get better. And I think that the last thing I want in my physiotherapist is follow through and the ability to really document, follow up, change course of therapy as needs be, to actually evolve with your patient. That’s a lot of follow through so I guess in summary, extraordinary knowledge and technical competence, extremely good bedside manners and the ability to motivate and then the last thing; the understanding of the follow through the documentation so that you can adapt as your patient evolves.
A common question from potential physiotherapy patients is “how long does it take for physiotherapy to work?”. What is your response to this question?
That’s hard because it all depends. I think that physiotherapist are able to tell that certain conditions on average may require 10 different sessions especially if its like a general orthopedic condition. And then could be topped up occasionally as you get better. But for someone who has had stroke, its difficult to say because there is the alignment of the person, their compliance to the program, their ability to work through their issues and their pain, and just how quickly their own bodies respond. So I think it’s a very tough question to answer and each person has to see with their own physiotherapist.
Prospective PT patients often get overwhelmed when seeking out a physiotherapist or PT clinic if they have not been referred to one by their doctor. How should someone go about choosing a physiotherapy clinic?
I think there are many ways to find that out. You can look online to find different clinics, you can ask your doctor for a referral, you can also ask for referrals from previous patients but whichever way you find it out, I think you have to go and understand; 1) what is the technical competence of the people, 2) what kind of equipment do they have to actually be able to treat the patient and what has been their history and track record of outcomes. So you can always check their testimonials, you can always check their ratings and I think the last thing is that you also have to be able to trust your physiotherapist. When you meet the person and you talk to them about your condition oftentimes you get a very good instinct as to whether or not you can work with that person.
How important is physiotherapy in modern health?
I think physiotherapy is extremely important in modern health because typically in Nigeria people are often used to being treated with drug therapy. And the reality is that in many issues your body can actually create healing within itself. And its important to balance drug therapy, surgery and physical physiotherapy in order to get better. So I would rate physiotherapy as one of the under utilized treatments that can help many many conditions both physical and some even mental and also urological.
How do you see the future of WellnessLiving in Nigeria?
I think that it is positive because I find that people are becoming more and more aware of that interplay between physical activity, diet, and mental care; that is some sleeping, being happy and some stress relief, all of that. So I think its up and up because more facilities exist, more practitioners exist and there is a whole lot more awareness amongst the populace as to what wellness is and the importance of it.
You have raised the first round of equity within the Nigerian venture space. could you tell us more about it?
Sure. So I think that the business of healthcare is one which has huge growth potential in Nigeria and there are many business ideas out there. What we have to do is be sure we have viable business ideas that are scalable, and can actually get to break even relatively quickly because this is an economy where debt capital is quite frankly too expensive and too scarce and it is a high risk approach for many businesses to take so what we did was we came up with a business plan that was addressing a real need and had scalability and we valued that at the appropriate level for first round seed and we went out and found investors who were willing to put the money down but realize that they were also in for a longer term investment. They weren’t trying to get their return on investment in 2 years, 3 years, 4 years, but understood that they were on a journey to build a very skilled business. So you need patient investors. You need to value your business correctly, you need to have a business plan that you can follow through and execute appropriately.