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Your initial years? How did you end up in an offbeat, unconventional and unusual career such as this?
“Like most people who come to Mumbai, I had to start my career without any money in my pocket or any Godfather. When Dr Aijaz Ashai finished his schooling in Srinagar, he had not even dreamed of becoming a physiotherapist. Dr Ashai has also been passionate about sports since childhood. “I have played cricket at the state level. The lack of fitness and unavailability of rehab facility cuts short the career of sportsmen. Physiotherapy was the answer to all these issues and I thought I should pursue a career in it,” he said.
What did you study?
A student of Srinagar’s Sri Pratap Higher Secondary School, Dr Ashai has done bachelors in Physiotherapy from National Institute for Orthopaedic, Kolkata with specialisation in Knee, Back and Shoulder from USA. “I think Allah has been kind to me. The prayers of my parents, well wishers and patients have made it happen,” he says.
But it was his dedication to studies that kept his fate on track as the career of this 40-year-old Kashmiri physiotherapist took off from a decript locality in Mumbai to make him one of the most renowned specialists in India. Be it his high profile clients like Indian iconic cricketer Sachin Tendulkar or his mates Virender Sehwag, Yusuf Pathan or badminton stars like Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes, he has treated them all. Besides, he also trains Bollywood actors including Arbaaz Khan, Vidya Balan, Rahul Bose, among others.
What are you doing now?
Currently, he is the head physiotherapist of the Indian Rugby Team and the East Zone Deodar Trophy Cricket team. In addition, he heads the Department of Advanced Physiotherapy in Ortho, Neuro and Sports Rehabilitations at Saifee Hospital, Mumbai. He also runs his own fitness and sports rehabilitation centre in Mumbai. He was also hired by IPL cricket team Mumbai Indians. That was how I started my career from a locality near Haji Ali’s Dargah. Living in that area was a big source of inspiration for me. In fact, it added more enthusiasm to commitment,” he says.
This year, on April 14, a new jewel was added to his illustrious crown of achievements. He was awarded ‘Young Achiever award’ given by Indian Association of Physiotherapy. “It was certainly a prestigious award and an achievement for me. But so is every other award. Now my friends and family joke that I should buy a separate apartment to keep my awards and certificates,” he laughs.
Dr Aijaz has been writing for a number of renowned publications like Times of India, Asian Age, the Afternoon Despatch and Courier, Navbharat Times and Gujarat Samachar on the need of physiotherapy, “In today’s world, physiotherapists are not given the importance that they deserve. The purpose of my writing is to tell people what physiotherapy can do to them. Our life style is becoming more sedentary day by day and it is high time that we understand the value of fitness. If you have read my articles, neck, back and knee pain will be alien words to you.”
How does a physiotherapist add value to sports and overall fitness?
As an expert on fitness, his interviews have been broadcast by ESPN-STAR, Doordarshan and SET Max. Considering his widely respected views, Dr Aijaz is now counted among the strongest player in brand promotional arena. He has achieved a celebrity status due to his immense contribution in the field of sports.
He says that offering the finest treatment to his patients has always been his approach. “No matter how the conditions prevail, a satisfactory smile on the face of a patient after he/she feels better is priceless. When the neuro patients who are bound to wheel chair, start walking, the excitement of their patient and family is an immensely gratifying moment. I get a feeling that my hard work was worth it.”
Back in Kashmir, Dr Ashai has been involved in many activities at different levels. He opened a rehab centre in Gogji Bagh, Srinagar for school level kids, sportsmen and anyone who required physiotherapy. “Although there is still a long way to go, I want to open a high tech physiotherapy college in valley with international standards.
Anyone passing out of the institute will have a guaranteed placement,” he suggests. Dr Ashai’s recent visit to Kashmir has turned out to be a blessing for many valley-based physiotherapists. He urged the local physios and noted experts on injury prevention in sports to create awareness among the people about the importance of physiotherapy and physical training.