An interest in orthopaedics led me to sports medicine and rehabilitation

Danae Charalambous
During my final year at university in Greece, I chose small animal orthopaedics as my subject of interest. I found the challenge of diagnosing very interesting, but that working in surgery was less appealing. When I was given the option to pursue an internship in internal medicine or surgery, I chose internal medicine.

The first year was demanding – numerous cases presented with complex diagnoses that often resulted in euthanasia. I also didn’t like the fact that I was given little opportunity to interact with the animals.

During my second year, many of our cases required both medical and holistic therapies, such as physiotherapy, but unfortunately there was no physiotherapy department to help them. This spiked my interest in rehabilitation and sports medicine, and led me to think about studying physiotherapy. I felt this would give me the opportunity to apply my knowledge to benefit these animals.

I began to search for referral centres in the UK that had an established physiotherapy department and I found Southern Counties Veterinary Specialists (SCVS). It’s one of the few referral practices that has a veterinary surgeon who has achieved a certificate in physiotherapy, as well as a dedicated team of physiotherapists and hydrotherapists.


"I feel fortunate to be the first ever European resident of veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation"


I applied for a rotating internship. My plan was to build my general veterinary knowledge base, as well as that of rehabilitation before studying physiotherapy.

However, the practice offered me an opportunity to study through the European College of Veterinary Sports medicine and rehabilitation with Harry Scott, an RCVS specialist in small animal surgery (orthopaedics) and veterinary neurology, as well as a European specialist in veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation. It was a perfect opportunity – I could study the subjects that I was passionate about, alongside the opportunity to apply my knowledge of orthopaedics and rehabilitation to study sports medicine.

A memorable case

During my internship, I recall one particular case that confirmed my interest and passion for rehabilitation. A canine patient presented to the clinic with tetraplegia after a suspected neurological insult. We – the students and interns – took responsibility for the patient because she was no longer under the care of her owner.

We performed frequent rehabilitation sessions and we bought a four-wheel cart to encourage her to stand and to move. Over time her improvement was immense, to the point where she can now lead an independent and comfortable life with minimal deficits.

Being part of the treatment, and seeing the positive effect it had on the patient further fuelled my enthusiasm to pursue a career in this direction.

I feel fortunate to be the first ever European resident of veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation. These are exciting times for me, and I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to study my long-held interest.

Looking ahead, I want to immerse myself in the field of sports medicine and rehabilitation and make the most of the facilities and expertise at SCVS throughout my residency, with the aspiration of becoming a sports medicine and rehabilitation specialist.

What does your job involve?

Currently I am on rotation within the physiotherapy department. My job involves assessing and rehabilitating inpatients – those admitted for surgery, following injury or needing full-time care. I also oversee the care of outpatients in recovery or those that require management of a variety of conditions. In addition, I manage sports medicine cases and I’m involved in working with neurological and orthopaedic cases involving dogs and cats.

What are the best things about your job?

I really enjoy the variety of cases during their varying stages of rehabilitation. It’s rewarding to see their progress and improvement at each session, which is visible through static and dynamic assessment.

Seeing patients over what can sometimes be a long time, allows me to connect with the patient and their owner, which I thoroughly enjoy.

What are the challenges?

Rehabilitation and sports medicine include caring for patients with degenerative conditions, where deterioration occurs over time. But these cases can also be rewarding, knowing you are engaging in activities that give animals an improved quality of life.

Would you recommend your job to a school leaver?

Veterinary medicine has many interesting and uncommon fields. Before making any decision try different things, and think outside the box. Why not try it? You might fall in love with sports medicine and rehabilitation like I did!

What advice would you give your younger self?

I was someone who was afraid of big life changes. I was afraid to leave my home country for somewhere new. But passion is bigger than fear. We have to chase our dreams, no matter how difficult that seems and have faith in ourselves.


  • 2009-2014: Degree in veterinary medicine, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
  • 2015: Internship in veterinary clinical pathology for six months
  • 2015-2017: Two-year internship in internal medicine, through which I gained a Masters degree
  • 2014-2017: Small animal clinical practice in Thessaloniki
  • 2017-2018: Rotating internship at Southern Counties Veterinary Specialists in Ringwood, Hampshire
  • 2018: Association of British Veterinary Acupuncturists foundation course in veterinary acupuncture
  • 2019 to present: European resident in veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation

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