Former athlete gets back on his feet to chase his dreams

An athletic injury led to a fascination with the field of physiotherapy for Singapore Institute of Technology undergraduate Samuel Peh. 

By Chew Hui Ling

Along with tales of despair in a pandemic year, there have also been stories that give hope — such as that of Mr Samuel Peh, 26.

The Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) undergraduate and former athlete was just 19 when a debilitating knee condition forced him to take a break from sports.

“I was very active in basketball and other sports during my secondary school and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) days. I would participate in competitions and spent countless hours training to improve my abilities on the court,” he says.

Unfortunately, that resulted in patellar tendonitis (also known as jumper’s knee), which is caused by overstraining and characterised by an inflammation of the kneecap. Told by his orthopaedic doctor not to participate in strenuous activities, he had to sit helplessly on the sidelines, while his teammates played on.

The person that helped him get back on his feet was his physiotherapist, whom he says “changed my life”. Mr Peh credits him, not just for playing a huge role in his recovery, but also for making him intrigued about how the human body works, which led to a new calling — physiotherapy.

New purpose in life

Mr Peh knew his results from ITE were not enough to score a place at a polytechnic. So he decided to get some hands-on experience first to learn more about the community care sector.

After national service, he enrolled in a therapy support course to gain more knowledge about rehabilitation. Upon completion of the course, he started work at St Andrew’s Community Hospital as a therapy assistant.

“(Working there) was an eye-opening experience. What struck me was how comfortable I felt interacting with the seniors.” he says.

“There’s never a dull day as a healthcare worker. Every day is filled with challenges that mould me as a person and new opportunities to meet patients from different walks of life. It was then that I set my mind to help the elderly in the community care sector.”

Picking up critical skills

In 2017, Mr Peh was accepted into Republic Polytechnic’s Diploma in Health Management and Promotion course, which equipped him with the academic knowledge as well as critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills that would later prove useful in university.

A recipient of the Community Care Scholarship from MOH Holdings (MOHH), Mr Peh is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in physiotherapy at SIT. One of his most memorable experiences as an undergraduate was attending a three-day camp last year — which took place online due to Covid19 restrictions — where he and other participants had insightful sharing sessions about the future of Singapore’s healthcare industry and society as a whole.

Despite these times of uncertainty, Mr Peh strives to stay focused on his goal — to serve the community. “The pandemic serves as a test for us to remain vigilant and steadfast when it comes to our healthcare system. This is so that we can continue to support and care for our seniors well amid the challenges.”