Kevin Britton poses for a photo
Kevin Britton will officially celebrate his Master of Physical Therapy at USask Fall Convocation on November 9. (Photo: Submitted)

Physical therapy graduate sees bright future

It was Kevin Britton’s involvement in martial arts that helped spark his interest in physical therapy and led him to apply to the School of Rehabilitation Science. Now the Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) student is set to graduate at the University of Saskatchewan’s (USask) Fall Convocation.

By Amanda Woroniuk

Originally from Regina, Britton pursued a degree in business administration at the University of Regina before moving to Vancouver, where he worked as a sales representative in the skateboard industry. On the side, he taught Brazilian jiu-jitsu – a type of martial arts where participants use grappling techniques and skills, rather than sheer strength, to overtake their opponents.

“My job was to coach students in jiu-jitsu and help them compete. It’s a physically demanding sport and injuries are fairly common,” said Britton. “I started to have students that would come to me with questions about their injuries and how to rehab them. Naturally I tried to learn as much as I could about these injuries and I started kind of doing some research.”

One day, a new student came to the gym to train with Britton. That student happened to be a physiotherapist and would go on to become a mentor for Britton throughout his time as an MPT student.   

“I started asking him questions about rehab and he invited me to come spend some time with him in the clinic. I started going into the clinic and shadowing him,” said Britton.

Through that connection, Britton learned more about physical therapy and became interested in the field as a career. He upgraded his education in anatomy and physiology classes at the University of British Columbia and Langara College in Vancouver to meet the MPT program application requirements.

“I needed to kind of change things up a little bit and I decided to pursue physio and come back to Saskatchewan,” explained Britton. “All my family is here and Saskatchewan was always home. I applied for the graduate program here at USask, made the transition and the rest is history.”

During his time at the school, Britton provided support for the Physical Therapy Students’ Society, attending all of their events and helping out the golf committee at their annual tournament. He also continued to teach jiu-jitsu at a local martial arts centre where was able to apply his classroom knowledge to martial arts instruction. 

“I had an opportunity to pursue teaching jiu-jitsu when I came here and ended up working part time throughout the entire (MPT) program,” said Britton. “I had the opportunity to provide some instructor training for one of our students who was from Fishing Lake, a First Nations community. The student wanted to bring jiu-jitsu to his local community to improve the health of his people and work against some of the social determinants of health that were adversely affecting his community.

While working as an instructor, Britton had been able to share some of his classroom knowledge to educate students on injury prevention.    

“(Jiu-jitsu is) a physical sport and people were getting injured quite often. It was informal, but something that I quickly started to integrate were some of the exercise and rehabilitation-like protocols that I was learning as a preventative measure with my students and with the group classes. 

Britton noted that he would use exercises learned from his clinical instructors and apply them in the warmups. If the students had further questions, he would refer them to the appropriate rehab specialist.

Within physical therapy, there is one area that has continually stood out to Britton. 

“My interest has always lived in orthopedics. I really love working with weekend warriors and people in the community that I'm able to help. My clinical experience that I've had throughout the program has really given me a good look at a lot of different client populations,” said Britton.

One of the benefits of the MPT program is the emphasis on clinical learning at facilities across the province. As a student, Britton has participated in clinical placements in Saskatoon, Regina and Biggar, Saskatchewan.

Through his education and clinical learning experiences, Britton has also been introduced to concepts within physical therapy and the range the field encompasses.    

“I would like to give the school credit because I didn't even really know anything about cardiorespiratory or neurological physiotherapy. The program introduced me to these specialty areas of physio throughout my clinical placements,” said Britton. “I was at Wascana Rehabilitation Centre and Pasqua Hospital – both in Regina – for those placements and I really enjoyed them. It gave me an opportunity to learn how physio is such a multi-system discipline and how each of those systems work together.”

During his time at the school, one thing stood out most for Britton.  

“The biggest thing that I loved about the School of Rehabilitation Science and Saskatchewan in general is, really, the people. I think the people really made the program. I was able to connect with a lot of great people during my time at the School of Rehabilitation Science, that was probably my favourite part of it all.”

For more on USask Fall Convocation, visit the graduation and convocation page.