As the profession continues to advance, a diverse range of specialist streams have developed, requiring additional qualifications and an advanced set of specialised skills.
“Neurological physiotherapy is one such stream, where therapists have undertaken further training in treating neurological conditions like stroke, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, motor neuron disease and Parkinson’s,” says Australian Physiotherapy Association specialist neurological physiotherapist Melissa McConaghy.
“What differs in the approach of a neurological physiotherapist, among many things, are often the context in which they work, and how and what they do.
More recently though, there has also been a focus on supporting people to self-manage and promote a better quality of life through ongoing exercise adherence, equipment and environmental set-up, aids and assistive technology and integration with a multidisciplinary team.
Ms McConaghy says much of what a neurological physiotherapist does fits into three broad categories: movement analysis and skill acquisition, prescription of aids and equipment, and education and training to establish a model of self-management.
“Movement analysis and skill acquisition involves training someone to re-learn a skill and improve or maintain their functional capacity – this might include training someone how to transfer from a chair to a bed independently following a stroke so that they can then toilet or get to bed on their own.
“Following on from this example might be the prescription of aids or equipment to enhance the ability of that individual to transfer to the bed both effectively and safely.