A radiographer at University Hospital Ayr has won second place in two competitions at the 2023 International Table Tennis Federation World Parkinson’s Table Tennis Championships in Crete.
Joy Paul, senior radiographer in the NHS Ayrshire and Arran region in Scotland, took home the silver medal in both the women's doubles and the mixed doubles during the tournament last November. She also won a bronze medal in the singles competition.
Ms Paul was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2008, and later came across an article which had said that there was scientific evidence that playing table tennis helped to alleviate some of the symptoms of the disease.
The article went on to explain about the first ever Parkinson’s World Table Tennis Championships, held in New York in 2019, open to anyone with Parkinson’s.
Ms Paul contacted a coach, and was able to join a rapidly growing group of players.
After significant success in her first competition, the UK National Championships in August 2021, where she took home a bronze medal, Ms Paul travelled to Berlin for the World Championships that year, and made it to the quarter final stage.
She said: “Table tennis has given me a renewed lust for life and a hobby which I love. Before table tennis, I hadn’t told many people about my diagnosis. I didn’t attend any support groups for fear of seeing how bad I might get.”
Ms Paul graduated from the Glasgow Caledonian University in 1990, working as a radiographer in Falkirk and Glasgow before being promoted to senior radiographer of MRI in 1994, where she worked with one of the first five MRI scanners in the entirety of Scotland.
She moved from Glasgow to NHS Ayrshire & Arran in 2001, where she has worked in cross-sectional imaging, both CT and MRI, ever since.
Ms Paul added: “Table tennis has changed everything. I now have many friends with Parkinson’s disease and, as well as gaining a support group, I have given hope to some younger, newly diagnosed people that you can still work, move and compete 15 years after being diagnosed.”
(Image: Joy Paul, via NHS Ayrshire and Arran)