Physical Therapy is a dynamic evidence-based health care profession with many clinical applications. Physical Therapists are often confused with massage therapists, chiropractors, personal trainers etc. however, physical Therapy covers a broader scope and is a more regulated profession.
Physical Therapy and Physiotherapy (PT) refers to the same profession, hence why at times the titles physiotherapists and physical therapists (PT) are used interchangeably. It is also important to know these are legal terms and are reserved for persons who are registered professionals. “Physio” is usually a slang or name used for physiotherapy or physiotherapists.
What is physical therapy?
Physical therapy is services provided to individuals and ultimately populations to develop, maintain and restore maximum movement and functional ability throughout the lifespan, as this is important for good health. Human movement and function can be affected by ageing, injury, pain, diseases, disorders, conditions, or environmental factors. Physical therapists maximise quality of life and movement potential within the spheres of promotion, prevention, treatment/intervention and rehabilitation.
Physical therapy services are provided in an atmosphere of trust and respect for human dignity and underpinned by sound clinical reasoning and scientific evidence.
Who benefits from physical therapy?
Physical therapy is for everyone who wants to improve their ability to move better, be more functional or live physically healthier lives. Anyone can benefit from physical therapy, despite age. It is important to understand that physical therapy is not a cure for all diseases or conditions, the aim is always to improve movement, health and function thereby aiding in recovery.
Physical therapists always work as a part of a team. This team includes the patient (Team leader) and other professionals who may be assisting the patient.
The other team members can be surgeons, doctors, occupational therapists, massage therapists, nurses, podiatrists, nutritionists, psychologists, coaches, trainers, family, and friends etc.
Common conditions treated with physiotherapy:
Pain—is the most common reason for anyone to seek medical attention. Many persons with acute pain especially as a result of injury or those with chronic (long lasting) pain achieves improvement with physical therapy.
Neuromusculoskeletal and orthopaedic conditions—back pain, whiplash, cervicogenic headaches, arthritis/joint problems, sports injuries, strains/sprains, tendinitis, work related injuries, post fracture injury, post reconstruction surgery, post joint replacement, shoulder injuries, heel/foot pain, nerve pain, wrist pain and overuse injuries.
Geriatrics/neurology—osteoporosis, joint issues, balance disorders/fall prevention, mobility issues, incontinence, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinsons, MS, brain/spinal cord injuries, stroke etc.
Paediatrics—issues affecting mobility in children such as developmental delays, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, growth injuries etc.
Cardiopulmonary—heart and lung diseases, cardiac rehabilitation, asthma, bronchitis/COPD, post heart and lung surgeries. Physical therapy can help improve oxygen transport using airway clearance and breathing techniques and improve a patient’s endurance to participate in activities of daily living.
Other conditions—the following also benefit from physical therapy in reducing pain and/or improving movement and function. Cancer rehab, lymphedema, post-surgery (general) rehab, amputation rehab, fibromyalgia, pregnancy related conditions and pelvic floor issues.
Physiotherapy Protects Economies The World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) states that researches indicate that lack of participation by people with disabilities (due to pain, injury etc.) cost some economies seven per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP).
Countries need more professionals like physiotherapists who will work to enable the disabled to become productive and participate in nation building. The WHO said that rehabilitation services such as physical therapy are good investments because they “build human capacity”. This will reduce economic losses due to disability of people.
Physiotherapists also treat patients with non-communicable diseases, such as cancers, chronic lung diseases and cardiovascular diseases, which are responsible for more than 70 per cent of deaths globally. People with chronic health problems can improve their health by learning how to increase physical activity levels and exercise safely under the guidance and instruction of physiotherapists.
Physiotherapists are able to prescribe exercise and help these patients make lifestyle adjustments, so that they can improve their health and daily function. Physiotherapists play a major role in reducing the prevalence and the severity of disabilities and non-communicable diseases through health promotion and advocacy, disease prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation. Physiotherapy does not just mean more healthy people, but more productive people who can contribute to countries’ economies.
Physical therapy can be of benefit to many people and even countries. Physical therapists are trained professionals who are responsible for restoring movement and function in our population. They can be found across T&T.
When seeking the services of a physiotherapist ensure they are registered with the Physiotherapists Board of the Council of Professions Related to Medicine.
The Physiotherapy Association of T&T can be contacted to help find a physiotherapist near you.
Adrian Palmer, PT, BScPT, PAPHS Clinic Director - Arukah Physio + Ltd. Registered Physical Therapist (RPT) ACSM/NPAS Physical Activity in Public Health Specialist Arukah.email@example.com Tel/WhatsApp: 868-314-3639