Patients who are injured, ill or disabled may find that they can benefit from the services of a physiotherapist. Physiotherapists aim to restore a person’s movement and function to its optimal level. Physiotherapy, also known as physical therapy or P.T., takes a holistic approach to healing, in the sense that the patient is actively involved in his own care.
Physiotherapists are professionals who have studied and trained in the healthcare field. There are a variety of areas in which they can specialize. These include education and health promotion, care of the elderly, pediatrics, workplace health, sports, orthopedics and trauma, recovery after major surgery, gender-specific health issues (such as incontinence), long-term conditions, neurology (including stroke), mental health and intensive care. Many physiotherapists work as part of a team that spans several of these areas. Physiotherapists can be found practicing in public and private hospitals, workplaces, charitable organizations, sports clinics, athletic teams and community-based organizations.
Physiotherapists provide therapy in four main areas of the body’s functioning: respiratory, cardiovascular, neuromuscular and musculoskeletal. The respiratory system refers to the breathing organs, such as the lungs, larynx and windpipe. The cardiovascular system deals with the heart and blood circulation. The neuromuscular system involves the brain and nervous system. Bones, joints and soft tissue are all included in the musculoskeletal system. Physiotherapy can help with more areas of the body’s functioning than many people realize.
There are a variety of approaches and techniques that physiotherapists utilize in helping their patients recover from surgery or regain movement and function in their joints and muscles. Exercise and movement is the most obvious one, and it’s important for the therapist to take into account the patient’s current health, physical fitness and any special requirements. Manual therapy techniques involve the physiotherapist using her hands (such as by massage) to relieve stiffness or pain and get blood flowing in a particular part of the body.
Aquatic therapy is when the movement or exercises are conducted in a shallow swimming pool or hydrotherapy pool. This type of therapy can often be enjoyable and uniquely effective because of the specialized properties of water that allow even the elderly to experience a wider range of motion. Other physiotherapy techniques include acupuncture, as well as the application of heat and cold to ease pain.
Back pain is the most common ailment that physiotherapists deal with, as it affects 80 percent of the population at some point in their lives. Back pain can be caused by things like lifting or carrying an object incorrectly, standing for long periods of time, overstretching, twisting or bending awkwardly, an inherited spinal deformity or simply having poor posture.
A physiotherapist will take into account your particular case before recommending a treatment, as well as suggesting ways to alleviate discomfort and pain yourself on a daily basis. For example, lower back pain is extremely common, and a physiotherapist may suggest some core stability exercises, as well as showing you how to improve your posture, in order to strengthen your lower back and stomach muscles.