A common question for people that have never visited a physiotherapist is the very basic question of “What is Physiotherapy?”. 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 can be defined as a treatment method that focuses on the science of movement and helps people to restore, maintain and maximize their physical strength, function, motion and overall well-being by addressing the underlying physical issues.
How to Become a Physiotherapist – Physiotherapy Canada
The healthcare professionals who provide physiotherapy are called physiotherapist. They are highly trained, with master’s degrees in physiotherapy, and are skilled at pinpointing the root causes of an injury, as well as treating them. Often, a problem originates in a completely different part of the body than the spot where the pain is centralized.
Physiotherapy is a registered profession in Canada. The Canadian Physiotherapy Association notes that physiotherapists:
- Have met national entry-level education and practice standards;
- Have successfully passed a standardized physiotherapy competence examination; and
- Are registered with the college of physiotherapists in their province/territory.
Once they are certified and registered, physiotherapists can pursue the designation of clinical specialist. This program, run by the Canadian Physiotherapy Association, “certifies physiotherapists who have focused their careers and can demonstrate advanced clinical competence, leadership, continuing professional development and involvement in research in a specific area of practice.”
Candidates for the clinical specialist designation must have a minimum of five years of applied clinical experience and a minimum of 300 clinical contact hours per year for the past five years in the clinical specialty area.
Physiotherapists work in concert with other healthcare professionals, and physicians may recommend a course of physiotherapy after an injury, surgery (e.g., hip replacements) or such health issues as heart attacks or strokes.
Physiotherapy Treatment: What Conditions do Physiotherapists Treat?
As professionals, physiotherapists are experts at providing physiotherapy treatment for:
- Preventing injury and disability;
- Managing acute and chronic conditions;
- Improving and maintaining optimal physical performance;
- Rehabilitating injury and the effects of disease or disability;
- Educating patients to prevent re-occurrence of an injury.
Patients may be referred to or seek assistance from a physiotherapist for a variety of health issues and receive valuable assistance.
Physiotherapists offer treatments relating to the following conditions:
- 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 lymphedema: treating, managing or preventing fatigue, pain, muscle and joint stiffness, and deconditioning.
- Incontinence: managing and preventing incontinence and pelvic floor dysfunction.
- Women’s health concerns: addressing health issues surrounding pregnancy, birth, post-partum care, breastfeeding, menopause, bedwetting, 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.
Physiotherapy Techniques: What Techniques do Physiotherapists Use?
Physiotherapists employ a variety of techniques, depending on the nature of the injury or problem they are treating. The most common physiotherapy techniques are:
- Manual manipulation: Moving joints and soft tissue helps to improve circulation, drain fluid from the body, and relax overly tight or muscles with spasms.
- Electrical nerve stimulation: Small electrical currents delivered to affected areas helps to suppress and block pain signals to the brain.
- Acupuncture: Needles stimulate the nervous system and work to dull pain, release muscles, boost the immune system and regulate various body functions.
- Demonstration: Teaching proper movement patterns allows patients to help heal themselves.
- Functional testing: Testing a patient to assess his/her physical abilities.
- Device provision: Prescription, fabrication and application of assistive, adaptive, supportive and protective devices and equipment.
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;
- Helping the patient set and reach physical goals;
- Creating a treatment plan that accounts for patient’s health, lifestyle and activities;
- Prescribing a course of exercises and necessary devices.
If you are experiencing issues with movement or function or are just seeking to optimize your health, why not check out a trusted resource like a professional physiotherapist.