A physiotherapist is a professional trained in the treatment and prevention of problems relating to movement and physical function. A physiotherapist is a holistic practitioner, treating their patients as a whole and helping to improve the individual’s ability to function and perform their daily activities, in a way tailored to their own lifestyle. There are several branches of physiotherapy treatment offering all kinds of physical therapy, from sports therapy and mobility improvement to pain management and rehabilitation from disease or injury.
Some physiotherapists will specialize in helping people manage or recover from specific physical or neurological diseases, such as arthritis or stroke. A physiotherapist can also help to manage some of the side effects of very serious conditions, such as lymphoedema or muscle wastage following cancer treatment. Some people benefit from group physiotherapy sessions, for example in cardiac rehabilitation following a heart attack, which includes exercise classes focused on the specific needs of people with certain heart conditions. Physiotherapists can recommend and refer patients for further treatments or investigations as necessary. They can also advise on mobility and functional appliances, such as appropriate walking aids, exercise equipment, or wheelchairs.
As well as conditions relating to the functional abilities of the joints and muscles, an important speciality of physiotherapists is in improving respiratory conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, through movement exercises and breathing techniques.
Physiotherapists treat patients suffering from a range of conditions. They can help to improve mobility and physical function by assessing a person’s condition and providing a tailor-made plan for exercise. Physiotherapists lead people through recovery and rehabilitation from injury or illness affecting physical function. Physiotherapists work in the acute healthcare setting, in hospitals and emergency care facilities, as well as in outpatient settings and homecare. They may offer individual treatment in physiotherapy clinics at general healthcare facilities, or in larger dedicated physiotherapy centers. Some physio treatments can involve group classes. Physiotherapists offer a home physiotherapy service for people who are unable to attend clinics for any reason. Their treatments include mobility and physical range exercises, advice on balance, sports, and the individual needs of their client.
Some physiotherapists specialize in sports therapy, and may run dedicated sports injury clinics. They are experts in the specific problems suffered by people who partake in different physically strenuous activities. This isn’t limited to sports injuries, but includes advice on protecting the body from the wear and tear of such activities and preventing complications arising in future.
Physiotherapists can also suggest and administer ultrasound physiotherapy – the use of ultrasound technology to improve painful inflamed areas of the body. This involves moving an ultrasound probe over the skin. A special gel is used to improve conduction. Therapeutic ultrasound is a painless and non-invasive treatment with a proven track record in the improvement of swelling and pain.
Physiotherapists are skilled at finding the best way for any person to be active and improve their physical function, and a good physical therapist will tailor their treatment to suit anybody, whatever their level of ability.