A common question for people that have never visited a physiotherapist is the very basic question of “What is Physiotherapy? Who are physiotherapists? What Conditions do Physiotherapists Treat?”
Physiotherapy is treatment to restore, maintain, and make the most of a patient’s mobility, function, and well-being. Physiotherapy helps through physical rehabilitation, injury prevention, and health and fitness. Physiotherapists get you involved in your own recovery. Physiotherapy encompasses rehabilitation, injury prevention and health promotion/fitness. The profession employs a holistic approach to treatment, looking at the patient’s lifestyle and engaging them in their own treatment.
Physiotherapy is the treatment of injury, disease and disorders through physical methods — such as exercise, massage, manipulation and other treatments — over medication and surgery.
Many people may be of the opinion that physiotherapists mainly work with back and sports related injuries, but they would be very mistaken. Physiotherapists are highly trained health professionals who provide treatment for people suffering from physical problems arising from injury, disease, illness and ageing. Their aim is to improve a person’s quality of life by using a variety of treatments to alleviate pain and restore function or, in the case of permanent injury or disease, to lessen the effects of any dysfunction.
We the Physiotherapy professionals work in a variety of environments including hospitals, community health centers, private practices, sports clubs, rehabilitation centers, schools, fitness centers and in the workplace. We either work alone or with other health providers to provide a multi-directional approach to rehabilitation.
The job role of the physiotherapist
The role of a physiotherapist is extremely varied with no two days being the same. He/she may have to assess the physical condition of a patient in order to diagnose problems and implement a treatment plan, or alternatively they could also be re-training patients to walk, or helping others to cope with crutches, walking frames, or wheelchairs. He/she will also be responsible for educating their patients and their families, (as well as the community at large) to prevent injuries and to help those people lead healthy lifestyles. In some instances the physiotherapist may be asked to plan and put in place community fitness programs. Finally, physiotherapists can also issue sick leave certificates should it be deemed necessary to do so.
During the course of our career a physiotherapist will treat all manner of people including children with cerebral palsy, premature babies, pregnant women, people undergoing rehabilitation, athletes, the elderly (to try and get them fitter), and those needing help following heart disease, strokes, or major surgery.
Different types of Physiotherapy Specialization
Physiotherapists can specialize in a number of different areas including sports medicine, children’s health (paediatrics), and women’s health and within these parameters there are three different areas of practice. These are:
• Musculoskeletal– which is also called orthopedic physiotherapy and is used to treat conditions such as sprains, back pain, arthritis, strains, incontinence, bursitis, posture problems, sport and workplace injuries, plus reduced mobility. Rehabilitation following surgery is also included within this category.
• Neurological– This is used to treat disorders of the nervous system including strokes, spinal cord injuries, acquired brain injuries, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. It can also be used for rehabilitation following brain surgery, pediatric neuro cases such as cerebral palsy.
• Respiratory – Cardiothoracic– is the name given to the treatment of used asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and other cardio-respiratory disorders.
Types of Physiotherapy treatment
Each individual’s treatment is tailored to suit their specific requirements and a physiotherapist will choose from a wide range of treatment options, including:
1- Manual therapies – These can include, joint manipulation and mobilization (which includes spinal mobilization), manual resistance training, and stretching.• Exercise programs – such as muscle strengthening, posture re-training, cardiovascular stretching and training.
2- Electrotherapy techniques – which consists of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), laser therapy, diathermy, and ultrasound.
3- Dry needling
4- Vacuum cupping
5- Sports Taping
6- Myofascial release
7- Hydrotherapy / Aquatherapy
One of the biggest reasons people go to a physiotherapist is because they’re in pain, but the cause of that pain can vary. Some people hurt their ankle, some have fallen on ice, some people come in because they’ve had a sore neck, back or shoulder for a while and they don’t know why. Some have an ongoing condition that they want to better manage. Physiotherapy not only helps in the management of pain & improving mobility but also recognizes warning signs and prevents them from happening. Thus, saving the patient from added pain of injury associated downtime.
Physiotherapy is a science-based healthcare profession that promotes recovery in illness, injury or disability. It aims to restore movement and functional ability to the person’s full potential. Physiotherapy is an independent profession where practitioners make their own treatment decisions and clinical judgments. They constantly reassess the results of their treatments and adjust their approach.
Do you need a referral from a doctor to visit a Physio?
No, you do not require a doctor’s referral to see a physiotherapist. Physios are independent professionals just like dentists or other specialists. You can book an appointment directly with them. You can see a physiotherapist hospital or their private clinic.When should I go see a physiotherapist? Think about getting physiotherapy if you have an injury, or chronic pain that affects how you function everyday. A doctor may refer you to physiotherapy after surgery such as a hip or knee replacement, or an event such as a bell’s palsy or stroke.
If you are planning to go for any joint replacement surgery before that also you could visit a physiotherapist and in some cases you can avoid surgeries through physiotherapy treatment.
What problems do physiotherapists treat?
Physiotherapists focus on both prevention and rehabilitation. Treatment can be for problems caused by injury, disease or disability. Here are some examples:
• Cardiorespiratory: providing support, prevention and rehabilitation for people suffering from diseases and injuries that affect the heart and lungs, such as asthma.
• Cancer, palliative care and lymph-edema: treating, managing or preventing fatigue, pain, muscle and joint stiffness, and de-conditioning.
• Incontinence: managing and preventing incontinence and pelvic floor dysfunction.
• Women’s health concerns: addressing health issues surrounding pregnancy, birth, post-partum care, breastfeeding, menopause, bed wetting, prolapsed, loss of bladder or bowel control.
• Musculoskeletal: preventing and treating clients with musculoskeletal conditions such as neck and back pain.
• Neurological: promoting movement and quality of life in patients who have had severe brain or spinal cord damage from trauma, or who suffer from neurological diseases such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
• Orthopedic: helping patients prevent or manage acute or chronic orthopedic conditions such as arthritis and amputations.
• Pain: managing or preventing pain and its impact on function in patients.
What to expect from a visit?
Each session with a physiotherapist is unique, because it depends on the client’s health issues and needs. However, a visit to a physiotherapist generally includes:• Learning about the patient’s medical history;
• Assessing and diagnosing the patient’s condition and needs;
• Deciding long term and short term goals
• Creating a treatment plan that accounts for patient’s health, lifestyle and activities;
• Prescribing a course of exercises and necessary devices.
• Creating home care plan.