Physiotherapy is the treatment of disease, injury, or deformity by physical methods such as massage, heat treatment, and exercise rather than by drugs or surgery.
It is a healthcare profession that assesses, diagnoses, treats, and works to prevent disease and disability through physical means. Physiotherapists are experts in movement and function who work in partnership with their patients, assisting them to overcome movement disorders, which may have been present from birth, acquired through accident or injury, or are the result of ageing or life-changing events.
Physiotherapy can help recover from injury, reduce pain and stiffness, and increase mobility. A physiotherapist can also help you prevent further injury by listening to your needs and working with you to plan the most appropriate treatment for your condition, including setting goals and treatment outcomes.
What sort of treatment do physiotherapists use?
Physiotherapists are trained to assess your condition, diagnose the problem, and help you understand what’s wrong. Your treatment plan will take into account your lifestyle, activities, and general health.
The following are common treatment methods physiotherapists may use:
- Exercise programs to improve mobility and strengthen muscles
- Joint manipulation and mobilisation to reduce pain and stiffness
- Muscle re-education to improve control
- Airway clearance techniques and breathing exercises
- Soft tissue mobilisation (massage)
- Assistance with use of aids, splints, crutches, walking sticks and wheelchairs.
Physiotherapy is a degree-based healthcare profession. Physios use their knowledge and skills to improve a range of conditions associated with different systems of the body, such as:
- Neurological (stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s)
- Neuromusculoskeletal (back pain, whiplash associated disorder, sports injuries, arthritis)
- Cardiovascular (chronic heart disease, rehabilitation after heart attack)
- Respiratory (asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis).
Physiotherapists work in a variety of specialisms in health and social care. Additionally, some physiotherapists are involved in education, research and service management.
How does physiotherapy enhance your life?
Here are some of the ways in which physiotherapy helps you:
- Promoting optimal mobility, physical activity and overall health and wellness
- Preventing disease, injury, and disability
- Managing acute and chronic conditions, activity limitations, and participation restrictions
- Improving and maintaining optimal functional independence and physical performance
- Rehabilitating injury and the effects of disease or disability with therapeutic exercise programs and other interventions
- Educating and planning maintenance and support programs to prevent re-occurrence, re-injury or functional decline
Physiotherapy is anchored in movement sciences and aims to enhance or restore function of multiple body systems. The profession is committed to health, lifestyle and quality of life. This holistic approach incorporates a broad range of physical and physiological therapeutic interventions and aids.
Physiotherapy services are those that are performed by physiotherapists or any other trained individuals working under a physiotherapist’s direction and supervision.
Physical therapy is not alternative therapy. It is a clinical health science. Physical therapists study medical science subjects in order to acquire the health education needed for prevention, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, etc., of patients with physical problems.
The physical therapist works in hospitals, GP (general practice, primary care medicine) practices, and the community. In the vast majority of countries a physical therapist must be fully qualified and registered by law. In order to become registered the physical therapist must have graduated with a university degree in physical therapy or a health science university degree that included a physical therapy course.
A qualified physical therapist is an expert in the examination and treatment of people with cardiothoracic, musculoskeletal and neuromuscular diseases; focusing on conditions and problems that undermine patients’ abilities to move and function effectively.