What is a Physiotherapist?
A physiotherapist is a university educated health professional and a recognized member of your health care team. Physiotherapists manage and prevent many physical problems caused by illness, disease, sport and work related injury, aging, and long periods of inactivity.
Physiotherapists work in many areas including: Cardiorespiratory, orthopaedics, neurology, paediatrics, women's health, seniors' health, and sports.
When you see a physiotherapist, he or she will complete an extensive assessment that may include your health history, evaluation of pain and movement patterns, strength, joint range of motion, reflexes, sensation and cardiorespiratory status. In addition, the physiotherapist examines relevant x-rays, laboratory tests, medical records and surgical notes. Based on this assessment the physiotherapist establishes a diagnosis and works in partnership with you to develop individualized goals and treatment programs.
Physiotherapy treatment can include therapeutic exercises, manual therapy, acupuncture, electrical modalities such as TENS or ultrasound, and work hardening. A physiotherapist promotes independence. Emphasis is placed on what you can do for yourself and on education to prevent future injuries or disability.
Can Physiotherapy Help Me?
Physiotherapists are skilled in the assessment and management of a broad range of conditions that affect the musculoskeletal, circulatory, respiratory and nervous systems. Here are some of the ways physiotherapy can help:
- Address physical challenges associated with back pain, arthritis, repetitive strain injury etc.
- Attend to sports injuries and provide advice on prevention and recurrence
- Direct care for children with paediatric conditions such as developmental delay, fractures and cardiorespiratory conditions
- Get you back on your feet after surgery
- Help you manage the physical complications of cancer and its treatment
- Manage incontinence
- Maximize your mobility if you have a neurological disorder such as stroke, spinal cord injury or Parkinson's disease
- Oversee rehabilitation in your home after you have been ill or injured
- Provide pre- and post-natal care and attend to other women's health conditions
- Treat neck and back pain and other joint injuries
- Work with you to treat and manage respiratory and cardiac conditions
How does Physiotherapy work?
Physiotherapists assess and analyze the effect of illness, disability, injury and inactivity and develop specific treatment plans based on their assessment and the individual client's goals.
In order to maximize your health potential and minimize strains and stresses to your body, your physiotherapist will follow these four steps to get you moving as optimally as possible:
- Assess your level of mobility, strength and endurance
- Diagnose your condition and develop a treatment plan to restore movement and reduce limitations, including pain
- Prescribe and demonstrate specific therapeutic exercises, monitor your progress over time, and adjust your treatment according to your needs and preferences
- Prepare you for independence with advice on how to manage your condition, including education on complications and prevention on recurring problems
Physiotherapists care about your goals!
Your physiotherapy treatment plan will be as unique and individual as you are, and your active participation will be essential for success.
Your physiotherapist will develop your treatment plan in close consultation with you and adjust it during the course of therapy in keeping with your goals and personal circumstances. Depending on your needs, your physiotherapist may draw upon a number of practice skills, such as:
- Corrective techniques to improve heart and lung function and cardiac conditioning
- Electrical modalities and acupuncture
- Manual therapy interventions to reduce pain and stiffness
- Posture and gait retraining and individualized conditioning regimes
- Techniques to correct muscle imbalances and postural alignment
- Techniques to improve movement coordination and balance
- Techniques and modalities to reduce pain
- Therapeutic exercises to build strength, flexibility and mobility
How will I know if it's working?
The goals you make with your physiotherapist are used to measure your progress.
Your physiotherapist will be able to explain what aspect of your condition will be addressed first and how your treatment will progress. Throughout treatment, the physiotherapist will pay close attention to improvements in your symptoms and functionality, and remain attentive to your assessment of progress.
Some of the milestones you can use to evaluate your progress include:
- Ability to return to work, sports and other daily activities
- Distance you are able to walk, run swim etc.
- How much you can lift or carry; eg. groceries, baby, weights
- Increased motion and/or strength
- Improved endurance
- Length of time you are pain free and decreased pain intensity
- Overall improvement in quality of life
Payment of Physiotherapy Services
Over the last 15 years there has been steady erosion in the availability of publicly funded physiotherapy services, particularly through hospital out-patient clinics due to cost cutting by government and hospitals in response to strained fiscal situations. The result is that physiotherapy services have become increasingly more privately funded.
Many people either self-pay or have some coverage for physiotherapy through insurance plans. Insurers include insurance coverage through employer-provided or private Extended Health Benefits (EHB) plans and Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) coverage through automobile insurers.