06 Sep The face behind the Physio… Interview with Jemma Lekkas
Don’t be fooled by appearances, Jemma Lekkas, owner of Glenbrook Physiotherapy, may be young, but she already has a wealth of experience behind her and is a formidable presence in the physiotherapy world.
After completing a Bachelor of Exercise Science and a Masters in Physiotherapy, Jemma spent many years working in both public and private hospitals and in private practice before she felt ready to step out on her own and build her own business. In October 2016, she took ownership of Glenbrook Physiotherapy and has never looked back.
“I wanted to build a clinic that represented the values and philosophy that drives my passion for physiotherapy,” says Jemma. “I love that every day is different; I love the variety. I’m never bored.”
Jemma’s interest in physiotherapy was sparked when she was a teenager. An accomplished athlete, she competed at the highest levels, and was a national silver medallist and 2-time state champion in the 400m.
She came across many physiotherapists during this time and found how they helped athletes fascinating. “In my later years of high school, I began studying anatomy, physiology, biology, and body systems. I really enjoyed it and realised physiotherapy was what I wanted to do.”
After finishing her studies at Sydney University in 2008, Jemma started her working career in 2009 at Nepean Hospital, which she credits as a huge foundation for her career. “I can still hear the advice of some of the physiotherapists I worked with,” she says, “and I still utilise that knowledge today.”
Upon moving to private practice, David Jones, Owner of and Principal Physiotherapist at Move Physio Pilates in Alexandria, became a huge influence on Jemma’s physiotherapy values. “I learned a lot from him and the way he worked with people. I admire how he uses knowledge to translate to each individual patient. He became a good friend, and I still consult with him if needed.”
Now owning and running her own clinic, life is challenging, but rewarding. “I love my profession,” Jemma says. “I am continually learning. I love applying new ideas and treatment practices to traditional methods to help a wide variety of patient presentations, and I love the challenge of working out how to help a new patient achieve their goals. “Sometimes I’m more excited about an outcome than the patient,” Jemma chuckles. “We laugh and high five every day.”
Jemma likes to think of healthcare as a team approach, where the patient is the most important member. “I genuinely care for each patient,” she says. “I see them as a whole person, not just as an injury. I want to be a positive force for people when they are struggling. I want to support and motivate them to help them reach their goals.”
It’s apparent that Jemma is always putting others first, and she cannot hide the love and passion she has for her job, but are there any downsides? “The paperwork! I don’t like the paperwork,” she laughs
You’d be forgiven for thinking Jemma has enough on her plate without adding to it, but she has also completed a course on Clinical Pilates, and is interested in the ConnectTherapy™ series run by Dr Linda-Joy Lee. She’d also like to further study Integrated Dry Needling.
But she credits learning from the founder of DMA Clinical Pilates as re-energising her passion for treating patients holistically. That is, treating the whole person, not the injury. She loves this quote by Pilates founder Joseph Pilates: ‘Change happens through movement, and movement heals.’
“The human body is designed to move,” Jemma says. “I’m a huge advocate of incorporating movement-based therapy into manual therapy techniques. I like that Pilates exercises are used as a treatment technique rather than just as an addition or something to do at home.”
Jemma now incorporates Pilates in the clinic regularly, including classes, adding a new dimension to treatment, especially for chronic conditions.
Outside of work, Jemma enjoys spending time with her family and the love of her life – her red/blue cattle dog, Abby. Never one to shy away from a challenge, she took up mountain bike riding earlier this year and never looked back. “The feeling of flying down a track, feeling free and a part of nature is exhilarating, I love it!” she says with a spark of adventure. She also finds time to relax by chilling on the couch watching her favourite TV shows, traveling, skiing, and taking walks with Abby.
But after achieving so much already, what are her future goals? “I love watching my business grow and take shape. I hope it continues to build steadily so that I have the ability to set up my life in any direction I choose. I’d like to expand the clinic eventually, and mentor young physiotherapists.”
Any advice for those young physios? Jemma thinks for a moment, “keep an open mind,” she says. “Stay passionate about making a difference and keep patients your focus. Listen to them – there is more in their words than you could ever imagine.”
For now, Jemma is content continuing to building rewarding relationships with her clients, and using the information she has learned over years of experience to get the best out of the body.
But she has big plans over the next ten years. She grins modestly. “Stay tuned.”
Written by Dale Himberger