Physiotherapists assist people to restore, maintain and maximize their strength, function, movement, and overall well-being. They use their knowledge and skills to improve a range of conditions associated with different systems of the body. They have in-depth knowledge of how the body works and specialized hands-on clinical skills to assess, diagnose, and treat symptoms of illness, injury and disability. Physiotherapy includes rehabilitation as well as prevention of injury and disability, managing acute and chronic conditions, improving and maintaining optimal physical performance, promotion of health and fitness and educating patients to prevent re-occurrence of an injury.
Physiotherapists can 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. For example: Asthma
- Cancer, palliative care and lymphedema- treating, managing and preventing fatigue, pain, muscle and joint stiffness and deconditioning
- 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
Every physiotherapy appointment is all about you and your particular needs. For an initial assessment, the physiotherapist will look at your medical history, assess and diagnose your condition, make a treatment plan that sets goals for you and prescribe a course of exercises and any assistive devices needed. During a session, it typically involves hands-on treatment including manual therapy to stretch stiff joints, and therapeutic massage to loosen tight muscles. There may also be machines involved with your treatment. Some types of electrical machines can help address pain or help to stimulate weak muscles. An individualized home exercise program will also be prescribed that may involve a combination of stretching and strengthening exercises.
Techniques are used depending on the nature of the injury or problem the physiotherapist is treating.
- 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
A physiotherapists goal is to get you moving. That means getting you to a place where you can be at your best functional capacity, maintaining that and then helping you to prevent future injuries. Physiotherapy is most effective when you work with your physiotherapist as a team.