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Celebrating 50 years working clinically as a Physiotherapist

Mary Lynch- Ellerington FCSP

The number of physiotherapists working 50 years after qualification is probably relatively

small the number working clinically in neurorehabilitation even smaller! Mary Lynch-

Ellerington this month reaches a truly golden anniversary celebrating exactly that 50

years as a physiotherapist still teaching and practicing clinically.


Mary qualified as a physiotherapist in 1973 working initially in Walton Hospital, becoming

Senior Physiotherapist on the new Stroke Unit in 1977. Moving to the Bobath Centre in

1979 she worked alongside Dr and Mrs. Bobath and Jenny Bryce FCSP MBE, qualifying as

a Bobath Tutor in 1980 and a Senior Bobath Tutor in 1984. In 1991 she opened her

private practice initially in London and later in York, treating patients and teaching

extensively in the UK and internationally, truly internationally -the only continent she

hasn’t taught on is Antarctica!


Mary was not only a founding member of IBITA the International Bobath Instructor

Training Association in 1984 but also established BBTA the British Bobath Tutors

Association in 1985 and the BBTA Tutor Training Programme. She has remained an

active contributor to the development of both organisations.


Mary was also President of ACPIN between 1992-1994 and her contributions to

physiotherapy were recognised in 2000 when she received a Fellowship of the CSP and

she has also been recognised in Japan and South Korea.


We both had the good fortune to cross paths with Mary in the early 1980’s when working

in London, attending short weekend, Basic and Advanced Bobath courses with her and

other tutors ultimately going on to qualify as Bobath Tutors. Were we just naive awe

struck Guru followers? We don’t think so - impressed yes anyone who has seen Mary

treat patients cannot fail to see the level of clinical skill. It was the drive to be able to do

the same or similar with patients that drove us on. Those of us who have seen her work

over many years have seen the development and the extensive evidence that informs

her practice. Perhaps one of the greatest compliments given to Mary was made during

the Bobath30 conference “Promoting Adaptive Plasticity” held at the National Hospital for

Neurology in London. Mary had completed a patient treatment session that was videoed

the day before the conference, and she presented and explained her clinical reasoning

and approach to treatment. Professor Roger Lemon who had also spoken at the

conference said while he couldn’t explain what was happening, he felt he had just

witnessed plasticity in action. Don’t think we could put it any better. Mary is a truly

talented clinician with specific skills many of us will never attain and during her career as

a physiotherapist Mary has personally helped improve the lives of hundreds of patients.

More importantly she has also inspired hundreds of therapists in the UK and around the

world to see what is possible with skilled clinical reasoning and treatment and to go on to

learn and develop their own clinical reasoning and treatment skills on Bobath courses.


To reach her 50th year as a physiotherapist still actively involved in the two organisations

(BBTA and IBITA) she has been involved in from their inception, to be an example of the

principle of life-long learning, still changing and developing in her own clinical practice

and still inspiring others is something to be celebrated.


Janice Champion & Catherine Cornall

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