What is Physiotherapy

Physiotherapist 1212

What is Physiotherapy?

There is much more to Physiotherapy than meets the eye…

Often when we think of ‘physiotherapy’, we tend to associate this practice with the rehabilitation of persons who have suffered some sort of traumatic experience, such as an accident causing bodily harm, or an intrusive medical operation. However, there is much more to physiotherapy than meets the eye.

Qualifications required to become a Physiotherapist

Physiotherapists complete a 4 year B.Sc degree with a fifth year of community service internship.

They are then registered with the Health Professions’ Council of South Africa and need to do courses in professional development on an ongoing basis to keep up to date.

Physiotherapists have ‘first line practioner’ legal status which means that you can consult a registered physiotherapist without a referral from a medical doctor.

“Prevention is better than cure”

Prevention is better than cure and so it is important to note that physiotherapists do not only treat problems, but can also help to prevent injuries or avoid re-occurrence by managing chronic conditions.

Physiotherapists treat conditions affecting the joints and muscular systems, such as:

  • Back or neck pain and headaches
  • Sports injuries
  • Pain in other joints or muscles
  • Assess posture and movement to prevent aggravation of injuries.

Physiotherapists assist people with impaired movement or even movement disorders which have been present since birth and involve the nervous system. Their field of expertise extends to treating:

  • Cerebral palsy or spina bifida patients
  • Car accident victims who are wheelchair bound
  • Cases involving brain injury or strokes
  • The consequences of life changing conditions or diseases such as cardiac disease, peripheral nerve disease, lupus, arthritis
  • Vestibular rehabilitation

They assist in pulmonary disorders such as asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, bronchiectasis and many other conditions causing breathing difficulties.

In the case of chest/pulmonary conditions, the physiotherapist may apply percussion, nebulisation, postural drainage and peak flow assessment.

Physiotherapists work post-operatively on orthopaedic patients e.g. those who have had joint replacements, hand surgery, amputations, shoulder surgery, or spinal surgery.

They can assist with scar management following surgery such as mastectomy, where they also work on lymph drainage.  Furthermore, they help women with urinary incontinence and those who require post natal exercises.

So what can you expect from a physio treatment?

  • A thorough clinical assessment of your condition
  • Massage programmes, soft tissue mobilisation and neural tissue mobilisation
  • Dry needling
  • Joint mobilisation and/or manipulation (grade 1-5)
  • Electrotherapy – ultra sound; TENs; laser, interferential therapy; EMG and other relevant procedures falling into this category
  • Strapping and kinesiotaping
  • Ergonomics and kinetic handling
  • Exercise programs designed for each individual’s needs to improve mobility, stability and strength of muscles.

The treatment will take into account other illnesses, work, sports, hobbies and age.

The objective is always to maximize a patient’s potential to enjoy the best quality of life available.

Treatment started early is best and chronic conditions benefit from maintenance treatment.

Thanks to the following professionals for this brief insight into the wonderful world of physiotherapy:

  • Gillian Spittal B.Sc.Physiotherapy (UCT),  13 Wartski Drive, Margate (039 317 1022)
  • Deirdre van Heerden BPhyst (Pretoria),    56 McLean Str. Umkomaas (039 973 2489)

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