Physiotherapy is therapy which promotes movement and reduces pain. In the United States, the term physical therapy is used. Physiotherapists are health professionals who have attended university for several years. Some physiotherapists have a bachelor of science, but now most physiotherapists graduate with a masters degree. Some schools offer clinical doctorates in physiotherapy.
The scope of physiotherapy is wide, involving the musculoskeletal, respiratory, and nervous systems. If you have had a serious fracture or severe asthma, or had a heart attack or stroke, you will be seen by a physiotherapist in the hospital. If you have neck pain or a sports injury, you will see a physiotherapist in a clinic. CanÊ¼t leave the home, due to disability or trouble getting around? Call a physiotherapist who does home visits. What techniques does a physiotherapist use to restore movement? After a total joint replacement, your knee will be stiff and painful, and it will be hard to walk. Your physiotherapist will show you how to walk with a cane, will teach you exercises to strengthen, and do hands on stretching to regain range of motion. If you wrenched your back, the physiotherapist will move the facet joints using the hands to position and pull, or will crack your back if needed. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, the physiotherapist will teach you how to protect your joints, and might apply laser, ultrasound, or electrical devices to reduce pain and swelling.
In the hospital, physiotherapists work in burn units, in cardiac rehabilitation, spinal cord and brain injury care, intensive care, and pediatrics. They are an integral part of the medical team, which includes doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and psychologists. On the sports field, physiotherapists attend to acute injuries, teach conditioning and injury prevention programs, and tape injured joints. In universities, physiotherapists research clinical problems, to contribute to the literature of best practices for optimal care. In schools, they assess and treat children with special needs. In industry, they give ergonomic advice, such as how to set up a computer station to enhance good posture, and they test functional work capacity, such as how much an injured worker can lift.
Physiotherapy ranks as one of the highest professions in job satisfaction. To be successful in the profession, a physiotherapist must enjoy learning. The science of the human body expands rapidly, so effort is needed to keep up with the newest research. A good sense of humour is an asset, because when dealing with people having challenging physical problems, funny situations arise and client and therapist often laugh together. Because the profession is so broad, most practitioners will specialize in a setting or an area of clinical interest, for example neurology or orthopedics. The common thread to all areas of physiotherapy is knowing how the body functions, and helping people move well.
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