Since May brings us National Physiotherapy month, it seems proper to address the top questions a physiotherapist gets.
What is a physiotherapist? Physiotherapists are health care providers who assist with the treatment of injuries, illness or disability. They have in-depth knowledge on how the body works; and can assess, diagnose and treat injury and disease, and its associated symptoms. The goal of physiotherapy treatment is to promote and maintain health and activity for people of all ages.
What schooling is required to become a physiotherapist? All physiotherapists must obtain their master’s in physiotherapy in order to register and practise in Canada. This means that they must first acquire a bachelor’s degree, which can be in any area as long as the required pre-requisites for physiotherapy school are met. The most common bachelor’s degree that physiotherapists have are in kinesiology or science. Almost all physiotherapists continue their education past graduation by taking additional courses to upgrade and learn new skills to help serve you better.
Where do physiotherapists work? Physiotherapists can work in almost all healthcare settings. This includes private clinics, hospitals, community heath centres, residential care, assisted living facilities and community home care.
What do physiotherapists do? A physiotherapist will first take a detailed history of your injury, illness or disease. Then they will use specific physical tests and measures to help establish a diagnosis and outline a treatment plan. Treatment can consist of hands-on manual therapy, electrical modalities, balance and gait re-training, home exercise programs and education. The goal of treatment is to return you to normal functioning, or to limit the amount of disability a disease or injury can cause.
When should I see a physiotherapist? Often you would benefit from a physiotherapy assessment and treatment in a private clinic if:
You are injured when being active
Your pain persists more than a few days and affects your ability to perform your day-to-day activities
You are going to, or if you have had surgery
You have strength loss and limited joint movement
You have a chronic condition or neurological disease
How can I make an appointment with a physiotherapist? Physiotherapists are primary health care providers, which means that you are able to book an appointment without a referral from your family doctor. If you are unsure if you would benefit from physiotherapy treatment, they can perform an assessment and will let you know whether physiotherapy treatment will help, or if a referral to another health care provider is more appropriate.
Kayla Comstock is a physiotherapist at North End Spine & Sports in Vernon.