Dr Khushal is the hero on the sidelines

Committed to his job, the physiotherapist helps several on-field champions to make a comeback in professional sports.

“My dad had put me into physiotherapy because he had a dream that his son should be into sports. I wanted to be a doctor and he told me that I could be a sports doctor!” Dr Khushal Asrani, 27, is a Mumbai-based physiotherapist who has helped players of an intercity cricket league and also some footballers in the local leagues. He was a young boy when his dad suffered a stroke and it was a tough time in his childhood. “Treating him, getting him back fit, making him walk was what actually got me into physiotherapy.” He went on to pursue a bachelor’s degree in physiotherapy from Tilak Maharashtra University, Pune and later on, took some specialization courses.

Dr Khushal treats a para-swimming champion now and another from paramilitary. “He ended up with a spinal injury because of a land mine. Now he’s a specialist and has around 30 gold medals.”

Another such assignment in the recent past was treating Collin Abranches, who is now playing with Bengaluru FC. “Collin, with ACL reconstruction surgery, was very sad because he couldn’t get into the team for a year. We strength-trained him for almost a year.

Collin was playing in Kolkata when landed up with an ACL tear. He was consulting another sport orthopaedic at the time but after already wasting a year and desperate to make a comeback, he turned to Dr Khushal, his school senior, for help. “The idea is to motivate the player and tell them about the improvements along the recovery period. It is very important for the doctor to explain the condition and inform the player of the stipulated period of recovery.”

The biggest challenge, he believes, is to return the player to his previous fitness level once he gets to be unfit. “It is very important for us to observe minor details” However, Collin’s trust in Dr Khushal played a major role in his recovery, “It is very important that the patient trusts the physio. We know the depth of the condition. Thanks to Google, people think they know everything, which is very wrong. We need to explain the condition to them in-depth and what is the next step of the recovery process.”

Even if he is a little sceptical about his profession, Dr Khushal keeps pushing himself to help more and more individuals to get back on the playing field. “All the physios are going through a tough time. Firstly, there are very few physios in India. To be honest, I work from seven in the morning till seven in the evening and I love my work.”

He understands passion and commitment are the only keys to success. In a country where professional sports are finally finding their feet, maybe it is time to look at a young sports physiotherapist with the same excitement that we treat a budding sporting talent. We need more people like Dr Khushal to ensure talented professionals like Collin Abranches return to the field and play the sport they love.

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