Movement plays an important role in people’s lives. Physiotherapists assist people with movement disorders which may have been present from birth (such as cerebral palsy), acquired through accident or injury (such as motor vehicle accident or sporting injuries), or the result of life-changing major events (such as stroke or the development of a disease of the nervous system.)Physiotherapists can help solve and avoid many of the painful problems that you may encounter throughout life. Whether you’re young or old, active or taking it easy, there’s a good chance you could benefit from physiotherapy at some point.
What is physiotherapy?
Physiotherapy uses a variety of techniques to help your muscles and joints work to their full potential. It can help repair damage by speeding up the healing process and reducing pain and stiffness. Physiotherapists also have an important role in rehabilitation, for example, helping people who have had strokes to relearn basic movements. However, physiotherapists don’t just offer treatment; their advice can help you prevent problems from returning or even from happening in the first place.
What types of problems can physiotherapy help?
Virtually any condition that affects your muscles, joints, or nerves can be helped by physiotherapy. Common problems include:
- Painful conditions such as arthritis
- Back and neck pain, including whiplash
- Problems affecting children including cerebral palsy
- Pregnancy-related symptoms such as back pain and stress incontinence
- Upper limb work-related problems, also know as repetitive strain injury (RSI)
- Asthma and other breathing difficulties
- Sports injuries
Before any action is taken your physiotherapist will assess your condition, diagnose the problem, and help you understand what’s wrong. The physio will work with you to develop a treatment plan that takes into account your lifestyle, leisure activities, and general health. This will include advice on how you can help yourself; for example, you may be shown exercises that you can do between treatment sessions. Where appropriate, physiotherapists also advise carers how they can help.
Physiotherapists use a variety of treatments. For example:
- Exercise programs designed to improve mobility and strengthen muscles
- Joint manipulation and mobilisation to reduce pain and stiffness
- Muscle re-education
- Hot and cold packs and electrotherapy to relieve pain, reduce swelling, speed up the healing process, improve movement, and increase functional abilities
- Airway clearance techniques and breathing exercises, to assist people with a variety of breathing difficulties
- Assistance with the use of aids, eg splints, crutches, canes, and wheelchairs.
Throughout the treatment or re-training program, the physio evaluates your progress at regular intervals, modifying treatment and goals when necessary. Wherever possible your physio will also work with you to help you learn to manage your condition independently for the longer term
Physiotherapy deals with movement at all stages of life. We hope you will move well and stay well with the help of your physio. Remember, there is a lot of truth to the motto Use it or lose it.