A guide to understanding physiotherapy

Here’s a handy guide to help you understand what a Physiotherapist or physio does!

 

Most people think Physiotherapy is just for sore backs or achy knees. While this is true, a Physiotherapist does so much more.

What is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is a branch of Allied Health which uses evidence-based approaches and expert knowledge of different body systems to help restore movement and optimum body functioning—that’s the rather wordy explanation.

In simpler terms, Physiotherapists have a thorough understanding of the musculoskeletal (muscles, bones and joints), neurological (brain and nerves), and cardiovascular (heart and lungs) systems of the body. Using their expert knowledge, they are able to diagnose, prescribe and help deliver hands-on rehabilitation strategies to people facing challenges such as:

  • Strength, balance, range of motion and/or coordination impairments
  • Soft tissue injury or pain
  • Difficulty with transfers and/or mobility
  • A decline in independence

Most of the people who face these challenges may have been diagnosed with conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy or Down’s Syndrome. They may have also suffered from a stroke, Traumatic Brain Injury or a spinal cord injury.

What does a Physiotherapist do?

Physiotherapists conduct mobility assessments to assess your strength, flexibility and sensations, and create a plan with a focus on gradually returning you to regular movement and enhancing your independence in daily life activities.

In your initial consultation, you will be asked what your goals are in your rehabilitation. The following list can be a starting point for your discussion with your Physiotherapist:

  • Increasing function or mobility
  • Increasing independence
  • Decreasing pain
  • Improving access to the community
  • Participating in sports and other physical activities
  • Accessing hydrotherapy

You may also wish to have someone provide manual handling training to the people around you, such as your family members or carers. Training on manual handling, which covers various activities from assisting you to move in and out of bed to pushing a wheelchair down various surfaces, can improve your safety as well as your mobility. A Physiotherapist can help you with training as well.

What are the health benefits of Physiotherapy?

The physical benefits of Physiotherapy are extensive. As previously mentioned, a Physiotherapist can help you increase independence and keep you safe as you slowly return to movement. They can also devise home exercises and education about particular issues.  The education component is crucial to help you understand what is occurring in your body, and a home exercise program enables you to do as much as possible to take control of your rehabilitation.

However, keep in mind that a one size fits all approach to recovery is unrealistic as we each will have different time frames for recovery and react differently to various treatments. Your Physiotherapist will take note of your progress to make sure you are on track to achieving the goals that matter most to you.

How much does Physiotherapy cost?

Physiotherapy costs can vary, and will depend whether you have health fund coverage or funding from the NDIS. You can get a better idea of all the specific costs by contacting your chosen provider, such as Better Rehab!

How to become a Physiotherapist in Australia

Physiotherapy is awarded by a university degree. Physiotherapists can become qualified in four years of study with a bachelor’s degree, or by a master’s degree in six years. After completing these degrees, Australian Physiotherapists are required to undertake yearly continued development. They must also adhere to strict codes of conduct.

What’s the difference between a Physiotherapist and an Exercise Physiologist?

Exercise Physiologists are a relatively new branch of the Allied Health world and are specialists of the physiological changes associated with exercise. While the scopes of practice between Exercise Physiology and Physiotherapy can, and often do, overlap, a simple way to differentiate is that Physiotherapists usually provide hands-on treatment modalities while Exercise Physiologists do not. You can read more our guide on Exercise Physiology here.

Is there a governing body for Physiotherapists?

The governing body for Physiotherapists in Australia is called the Australian Physiotherapy Association or APA.  This platform ensures Australian Physiotherapists have access to the latest research and provide tools for continued development and training. This ensures that Physiotherapists are up-to-date with the latest and best treatment approaches and modalities.

The APA website also offers help for patients seeking physiotherapists by allowing them to search by area or by conditions.

If you think you or someone you know could benefit from visiting a Physiotherapist to treat an injury or ailment, we can help.

Find out more about how Better Rehab Physiotherapists can support you by contacting our friendly team today.

Read our Good News Stories in Physiotherapy!