Knights rides in to help with Covid-19 emergency

Knights rides in to help with Covid-19 emergency

By Jeremy Inson
6 July 2020
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Ealing 1871 physio (and sometime player) Matt Knights has been putting his skills to use and learning new ones during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Here Matt, who has been with the club since 2014 and is now Head of Medical Services, tells us about his experiences on the front line over the past few months.

Since 27 April I have been working as a Physiotherapy Assistant on the Covid Ward at St Pancras hospital. I am currently studying for a Masters in Physiotherapy at St Mary’s University in Twickenham and was on a year’s placement with Harlequins.

When the pandemic broke, I was semi-furloughed by Quins and then received the chance to work for the National Health Service (NHS), which was something I wanted to pursue. St Mary’s put my name forward to the Central and North West London Trust (CNWL) who offered me the chance.

I have been working on the Covid Ward which is where someone goes when they are medically fit enough to no longer require a ventilator.


When people are on a ventilator the machine is breathing for them. They are on their backs in a coma and can lose 10-20kg of muscle mass. It means a frail old woman of 60kg can barely walk when she comes off the ventilator if she has lost that much muscle mass.

Much of what I have done is teaching people to sit up, then stand up and walk because they are completely incapable of doing that alone. It shows the impact of Covid-19 on recovering patients because when they are recovering, they are the still fatigued.

The standard practice is to rehab people so they can go home and be able to live a normal day to day life, knowing that they are safe.

I found my feet quickly and I was not just doing physiotherapy. Within my remit and training I was moving on to occupational therapy work, nursing and going over other related professions that gave me a greater understanding of them and how they all work together. Under normal circumstances I would have just had to deal with the physiotherapy.


I had to wear all the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). I wore the apron, the mask, the gloves, and you sweat like crazy. You are trying to do physical stuff, so you would sweat buckets. It was pretty grim for all of us.

The most annoying thing was having to wash and iron my clothing and equipment every single day. I had to wash it on a high heat every night to wash the bugs and bacteria off it.

My family were worried for my situation and I admit I had to message my mother every night. I also had to have the ok to take up the placement from my three housemates.

I have officially finished that placement and have moved onto the Neuro Ward, where they do not have any Covid-19 patients. I’ve a month left of that and by then I will have completed the 900 hours I need, and then I qualify as a physiotherapist.

One of the things that is amazing is that while everyone was overworked and seeing more people than they normally would, people would still take the time to teach me stuff and give me guidance. It was the most welcoming and supportive company I have ever worked for.

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