Dr Christina Michailidou is a physiotherapist, specialist in Graded Exercise Therapy. She has a doctorate and a master's degree from Brunel University, London. She has extensive experience in the rehabilitation of patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and chronic fatigue which appears in other conditions, such as cancer and fibromyalgia. She has worked for years in special clinics for the treatment of chronic fatigue in London, namely at King's College Hospital and Royal Free Hospital, and has been a freelance specialist. She has participated in the training and education of health professionals about using Graded Exercise therapy to rehabilitate chronic fatigue.
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I was born in Kavala, where I grew up with beautiful childhood years, next to the sea, participating in plenty of extracurricular activities. I was a member of a swimming team for many years and I participated in various competitions, including the National Championship. I did gymnastics for six years and played volleyball for three. I loved traditional dance and I took part in my first trip abroad, to an international folk dance festival, at the age of 12. I was a good student and at the age of 16 I went to London to attend English lessons at a college for 1 month. At the time, I wanted to gain experience of living in a multicultural and fast paced city. I loved this experience and many years later I moved to this city.
Following school exams, at the end of high school, I entered the School of Nursing. I attended classes for one semester, but physiotherapy was what I wanted to do most. So, two years later I joined the Faculty of Physiotherapy at the University of Thessaloniki and I graduated in 1998. Towards the end of my studies I started to realise that I wanted to extend my education, thus in 1999 I moved to London. I got my Master’s Degree in Neurorehabiliation in 2001. My life in London started on a temporary basis, but the scientific and work opportunities offered to me made it last 15 years!
I soon realised that research was of great interest to me, so I decided to continue my studies by enrolling for a PhD. I was awarded a doctoral training grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research council (EPSRC). I started my research in the field of therapeutic mechanical horse riding for people with spinal cord injuries and children with cerebral palsy, a topic of particular interest. In 2006 my study was selected, along with two others, to be presented to Her Majesty the Queen, Elizabeth II, who visited Brunel University, where I was studying. The experience of the preparation, the presentation and my acquaintance with the Queen is something that will remain with me always, with memories of joy and pride, which dissolve the pre-existent stress. As it often happens in research, in mine there were several operational problems and I had to make important decisions. Abandoning my PhD was not an option for me. So I decided to change its subject, although I had already conducted 60-70% of my research, material which I still have available. The creation of a new research proved a tedious, but creative experience. The new topic still involved people with a spinal cord injury, but the research included patients from the UK, Greece and the USA. This multicultural study was an opportunity to expand my knowledge on diversity and similarities of people who despite their cultural differences, they are united by a common condition.
I got familiar with diversity in my workplace too. Alongside my studies, I worked in various jobs including working for 7 years with children with learning and physical disabilities. But the work that has marked my career so far, has been my involvement with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Graded Exercise Therapy. In 2006 I started working as a research physiotherapist for the world’s largest, up to date, research on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, the PACE trial. My training included strict criteria and lasted for several months. My interest and my love for this subject has been growing further year by year. The PACE trial completed in 2009 and its results, positive for Graded Exercise therapy, are being published over the years. For the purpose of this research, I worked in two hospitals in London, the Maudsley Hospital part of King's Health Partners and the Royal Free Hospital. After the end of the trial, I continued to be employed by the chronic fatigue research and treatment unit of King's College Hospital, as a senior clinical physiotherapist, specialist in Graded Exercise Therapy. I remained in this position for eight years until my resignation in order to return to Greece. This has been the most difficult resignation in my life until today, since my love for this workplace has been great. From 2012 I worked as a freelancer, traveling around the UK to visit patients with chronic fatigue and chronic pain.
Upon completion of my PhD and in addition to my job at the hospital and my freelance work, I began my postdoctoral work in one of the best universities and research centers in the world, the University College London (UCL). I worked in ovarian cancer at the Institute for Women's Health. Upon completion of my postdoctoral I made another important decision, to return to Greece. So near the end of summer 2014 I returned, after many years, to my homeland city of Kavala.
Adjusting back to living in Greece happened gradually over the next year. My experiences on both professional and personal level helped me to redefine my goals. Upon my return to Kavala, I taught as a lecturer of physiotherapy in two public Institutions of Education (IEK) in my city. Although I had a small teaching experience while in England, this constant everyday teaching and contact with my students has been offering me more important knowledge.
My contacts with England, both on academic and clinical level, remain giving me the opportunity to continue working on the production of scientific publications and design research. My love for clinical physiotherapy and research remain high. My particular interest is focused on Graded Exercise Therapy and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or chronic fatigue caused by conditions like cancer or other chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson's disease and others. My long experience and my continuous training in this field provide me with the necessary skills to consider myself an expert in this field.
My purpose is to help, in Greece the country of my origin, patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or chronic fatigue from other causes (eg, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.) by using Graded Exercise Therapy. I am perhaps one of the few therapists, if not the only physiotherapist in the country, to have been trained in this specialty and the only Greek who participated in the world's largest research in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Working with people who suffer from chronic fatigue and live outside Greece is also a possibility as treatment can be combined with the method of telerehabilitation. A further aim I have is to conduct research in chronic fatigue in Greece, which, currently, is minimal.
I am a certified physiotherapist with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy of the United Kingdom and the Panhellenic Association of Physiotherapists. I am a member of the Chartered Physiotherapists in Mental Health in the United Kingdom.
My education, my expertise and the years of my experience in using Graded Exercise Therapy in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and chronic fatigue in general, are valuable factors that allow me to help people with these disorders.
Dr Michailidou has done postdoctoral research in the gynaecologic cancer at London's UCL University. She has extensive experience and a clear understanding of how to create and elaborate scientific research. She has participated, as a clinical physiotherapist, in the world’s largest research on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, she publishes in international scientific journals, and organises scientific research programs. Since 2014 she has been working in education, where she teaches physiotherapy courses.