04 March 2024

Physiotherapist Katharine Wrobel has just returned from working at the Brisbane round of the 2024 UCI BMX Racing World Cup. 

We asked her to tell us a bit about the experience . . . . 


How and when did you become involved with the BMX World Cup? 

Over the past few months, I assisted with club and state level BMX events through 1300MEDICS. I sought these opportunities to develop my skills in responding to acute traumatic injuries. I was offered a physiotherapist role for the BMX World Cup in Brisbane, to assist the team with the assessment and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries.

 What did your role on the trip entail? 

My role predominantly involved assessing and treating athletes in the medical tent. Other members of the medical team had roles that were trackside, who were stationed at multiple places along the track to provide immediate first aid response to accidents as they occurred. Their role was to also extricate patients from the track to the medical tent nearby. My role within the medical tent was to assess injuries to determine whether fractures or more serious injuries may be present and if imaging or referral to hospital may be required. I also providing soft tissue injury management, splinting, strapping as well as cleaning and dressing a large number of wounds and abrasions.

What did you find most enjoyable about the trip? 

I really enjoyed working as a part of a multidisciplinary team, I was working alongside emergency physicians, registered paramedics and registered nurses. It was great to watch the other health professionals in their roles and learn from them, as well as sharing my knowledge on assessing musculoskeletal injuries.

I also really enjoyed the simulation-based training that we completed each morning before racing started, we would spend one hour as a group practicing extricating "riders" from difficult positions/situations on the track. 

What do you find the most challenging? 

One of the more challenging parts of the role was communicating with international athletes with varying levels of English. I therefore had to be very direct and clear with my own communication, as well as utilising coaches or staff to translate where possible.

Additionally, the really high temperatures in Brisbane were a challenge across the four days. Not only was it tiring for staff working in the hot conditions but also a high majority of the athletes were heat affected, coming in to the medical tent extremely sweaty and dehydrated.

How does this differ from other sports you are involved in / athletes you have worked with? 

My previous sports roles predominantly include soccer and working with VFL/AFLW umpires, so the BMX was an extremely different sport to become involved in - part of the reason I was excited to take on the experience.

BMX is a very high intensity sport where athletes push themselves as hard as they can for 1-2 minutes, they are racing at very high speeds (around 60km/hour) and can get very close to other riders on the track. As a result, there are high amounts of force and speed behind them during any collisions and the surface they race on is very hard, like bitumen. Due to the nature of the sport, there is always a large number of acute injuries at every event which is different to most ball sports where traumatic injuries, like fractures, are less common.

How do you feel this experience will help you in treating your patients at Alphington Sports Medicine Clinic? 

It was great to gain experience in a different type of sport and gain an understanding of the most common injuries cycling athletes experience, therefore I will be better able to treat any cyclists that attend the clinic.

Additionally working with high level international athletes who have flown great distances across the world to compete and were trying to gain as many points as possible to quality for the Olympics, means at times we had to make risk assessments and high stakes decisions about whether these athletes could continue racing. These decision-making skills are transferrable to any athlete who experiences injury and wishes to continue in their sport with as little downtime as possible.


For more information about Katharine Wrobel go to: https://www.alphingtonsportsmed.com.au/practitioners#katharine-wrobel-nee-camobreco-