What do Physiotherapists do?
Many people may believe that physiotherapists mainly work with back and sports-related injuries, but that’s not always the case. Physiotherapists are highly trained health professionals who provide treatment for people suffering from physical problems arising from injury, disease, illness and ageing.
A physiotherapist’s purpose 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.
How to become a physiotherapist
Australia requires that all physiotherapists be registered, and according to data released from the Physiotherapy Board of Australia, as at May 2012, there were 23,301 physiotherapists on the register.
They either work alone or with other health care providers to deliver a multi-directional approach to rehabilitation.
The role of the physiotherapist
The role of a physiotherapist is varied and rarely are two days the same. A physiotherapist may have to assess the physical condition of a patient to diagnose problems and implement a treatment plan, or they could also be re-training patients to walk, or helping others to cope with crutches, walking frames, or wheelchairs.
Education is also an essential role in physiotherapy. Physiotherapists spend much time educating patients, their families, and the community to prevent injuries and to help people lead healthy lifestyles.
A physiotherapist may also plan and implement community fitness programmes. Finally, physiotherapists can also issue sick leave certificates should it be deemed necessary to do so.
During their career, physiotherapists 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.
Types of physiotherapy
Physiotherapy can be an effective treatment for a plethora of conditions, and the following treatments can help lessen the recovery time after a variety of surgeries.
Physiotherapists can specialise in several 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 orthopaedic 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.
- Cardiothoracic is the name given to the treatment of used asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and other cardio-respiratory disorders.
Types of treatment in physiotherapy
Each individual’s treatment is tailored to suit their specific requirements, and a physiotherapist will choose from a wide range of therapies, including:
- Manual therapies – These can include joint manipulation and mobilisation (which provides for spinal mobilisation), manual resistance training, and stretching.
- Exercise programmes – Such as muscle strengthening, posture re-training, cardiovascular stretching and training.
- Electrotherapy techniques – Consists of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), laser therapy, diathermy, and ultrasound.