Anyone who may have had a sports injury or needed physical therapy at Cayman Islands Hospital have probably crossed paths with Kristina Bramwell.
She has a profound interest in sports medicine and the rehabilitation of sports-related injuries. The 27-year-old earned her doctorate in physical therapy from the University of Miami. She also has a bachelor’s degree in athletic training from Ithaca College and became certified in kinesio taping, as well as acupuncture.
Bramwell is being featured for Honouring Women’s Month, because her qualifications and career path demonstrate what is possible in sports, said Merta Day, women’s coordinator in the Cayman Islands Department of Sports.
Bramwell was motivated to choose sports medicine because of her grandfather, Joseph Welds, who had polio as a child and as a result, his lower extremities were weak.
“I was intrigued by the lifestyle changes that he had to make for daily activities,” she said. “He had to walk with canes, use a motorised scooter and had leg braces to promote stability.”
As a child, her parents, Lance and Sharon, encouraged Bramwell to be active. She began karate at age 6 and then, like most girls, took up netball two years later. In her teens, she played football for a few seasons. She understands the competitive spirit of athletes and knows firsthand the value of exercise.
“The only individual awards I ever won were for being the most improved player, for netball in 1996 and soccer in 1999,” she said. “At the time, I’m sure I was a bit embarrassed by the awards, but looking back, I think it showed real commitment and a strong desire to improve my skills.”
Bramwell also recognises the importance of sports for the development of children and young women.
“Being active and physically fit prevents so many chronic diseases and conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes,” she said. “Sport is a great way to achieve optimal health in a fun way. Playing sports also has many nonphysical benefits. Studies have shown that children who play sports have lower rates of illegal drug use, higher grades in school and better social skills than those who don’t.
“Girls who are involved in sport from a young age typically tend to stay involved in sports or at least stay physically fit and active,” she added. “This greatly decreases the rate of bone loss. Also, studies show that girls who are involved in sport are less likely to get pregnant at a young age, more likely to finish school, and have higher incomes and better jobs.”