Physiotherapy is one of the best known of the wellbeing modalities with equal focus on both curative and management of conditions in a patient which have resulted in loss of physical function as a result of age, injury, disease of any other factor.ᅠ

Your physiotherapist will seek to identify the underling cause of your physical issues, and then work with you to obtain the best result for you. In some cases, the best result might be a complete recovery from an injury, in other cases it may short term relief of pain, discomfort or stiffness, strengthening of muscles to compensate for joint weakness etc

Whilst many people identify with the most public face of the physiotherapist in their treating of athletes, there are many more specialities in physical therapy including

  • Sports
  • Cardiopulmonary
  • Geriatrics
  • Integumentary
  • Neurologic
  • Orthopedic
  • Pediatric

Your physiotherapist will take a personal history of events leading up to your compromised physical function(eg, an accident, a sports injury, sudden or gradual onset) and also perform a physical examination in order to diagnose your condition and to create a treatment of management plan for you. In some instances, further diagnostic tools will be needed for example and xray, mri or Electrodiagnostic testing
Your physiotherapist may work from their own rooms, but often they are attached to a medical centre or hospital as treatment of physical conditions by a physiotherapist usually goes hand in hand with treatment of the same conditions by a medical doctor.

History of Physiotherapy
The first physiotherapists were in fact also early physicians, and included Hippocrates and then later Galenus both advocating physical treatment such as massage, manual therapy and hydrotherapy as far back as 460B.C.

By the end of the nineteenth century the practice has become so specialized that it branched off from treatment as administered by a physician. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy was the first physiotherapy society to be created in 1894 in the UK. The US followed suite shortly after in 1914 at the Reed College in Portland, Oregon, which graduated “reconstruction aides.”

Research into the benefits of physical therapy on movement compromised patients drove the physical therapy movement, and 1921 saw the first physiotherapy research papers published in the US. Also in that year the Physical Therapy Association (now called the American Physical Therapy Association.(APTA)) was created. Physiotherpay was being used as a treatment for Polio victims as far back as 1924.

By the 1940’s treatment was focused on restorative exercise programs, therapeutic massage and traction. Spine and joint extremity manipulation was being practiced by the early 1950s. Physiotherapy started to expand out from hospitals into outpatient clincs and rehabilitation centres

Having itself branched of as specialization of medical treatment, physiotherapy soon itself became so broad that physiotherapy specialties emerged. 1974 saw the formation of the Orthopedic Section of the APTA as well as the formation of the International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Therapy

Specialty areas
With such a large body of knowledge, physiotherapy in the US is now split into 7 specialized certifications including Sports Physiotherapy and Clinical Electrophysiology. The specilaisites are detailed below.

Cardiopulmonary
Typical patients are personsᅠ

  • with cardiopulmonary disorders
  • who have had cardiac or pulmonary surgery

The physical therapy goal would include increasing the patient’s endurance and thus their ability to function independently.

Other types of patients treated are those with chronic lung secretion diseases such a cystic fibrosis, chronic bronchitis or emphysema. ᅠManual therapy is utilized to assist in clearing lung secretions.

Cardiopulmonary physical therapy can be used to treat many such conditions including post heart attacks recovery, ᅠpost coronary bypass surgery, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, as well as pulmonary fibrosis.

Geriatric Physical Therapy
The typical patient need not be “a geriatric” but Geriatric Physiotherapy is as its name suggests focused on treating conditions associated with aging and thus many patients are older adults. Geriatric physiotherapy and can have great impact on the quality of life for an older person, especially as lack of mobility can lead to other health issues, as well as loss of independence.

Conditions treated include but are by no means limited to arthritis, osteoporosis, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, hip and joint replacement, balance disorders, incontinence and more. Treatment helps those affected by such problems the result being restored mobility, less pain and higher fitness.

Neurological Physical Therapy
This specialty of physical therapy targets individuals with neurological disorders or diseases such as include Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, brain injury, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, and stroke. Common impairments associated with neurologic conditions include impairments of; vision, balance, ambulation, activities of daily living, movement, speech and loss of functional independence.

Orthopedic Physical Therapy
Involves the diagnosis, management, and treatment of disorders and injuries of the musculoskeletal system including rehabilitation after orthopedic surgery thus practices are most often attached tot eh orthopedic unit of a hospital. . Orthopedic physiotherapists are trained in the treatment of post-operative orthopedic procedures such as ᅠfractures, acute sudden onset sporting injuries, osteo arthritis, sprains, strains, back and neck pain, spinal conditions and amputations. Joint and spine mobilization/manipulation, therapeutic exercise, neuromuscular reeducation, hot/cold packs, and electrical muscle stimulation (including cryotherapy, iontophoresis, electrotherapy, sonography) are treatments often implemented to hasten diagnosis and recovery. ᅠ

Persons ᅠwho are suffering from an injury or disease which has affected their muscles, bones, ligaments, or tendons will benefit from assessment and treatment by an Orthopedic physical therapy

Physical Therapy
The treatment and detection of physical health issues in children describes the modality of Pediatric Physical Therapy. ᅠPediatric ᅠPhysiotherapists are trained to diagnose and manage treatment of ᅠinfants, children, and adolescents with congenital, developmental, neuromuscular, skeletal, or acquired disorders/diseases. Treatments may focus on a complete cure, or on improving gross and fine motor skills, balance and coordination, strength and endurance as well as cognitive and sensory processing/integration.

Children with developmental delays, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, or torticollis(wry neck) are typical patients of a Pediatric Physiotherapist.

Integumentary Physical Therapy
Integumentary describes the external protective organs of the body, for example, the skin, hair,nails. The skin in humans has many important functions, being an exit point for uric acid, an entry point for vitamin d, an aid in heat regulation as well as protecting the body from infection and fluid loss.

The most common conditions managed by an Integumentary Physiotherapist include wounds and burns. Physical therapists use surgical instruments, mechanical lavage, dressings and topical agents to debride necrotic tissue and promote tissue healing. Management plans may include exercise, edema control, splinting, and compression garments.

Required Education for Physical Therapists
In the United States a physiotherapist will most often have:-

  • A ᅠBSPT degree older practitioners will have this type of qualification though it is has now bee replaced by the:タᆭ.
  • A doctorate in Physical Therapy(DPT) degree, (Now the most common qualification and most programs are transitioning to this qualification.)
  • A Masters degree(MSPT or MPT)

Physical therapist training includes clinical internships and physical therapists must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination before they may practice.

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