What is physiotherapy?
Physical therapy or physiotherapy is a science-based practice and a branch of rehab medicine aimed at helping people maintain, recover or improve their physical abilities.
Physiotherapy is not an alternative therapy - practitioners must complete a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy, extensively studying anatomy, neuroscience, physiology and biomechanics.
Treatment outcomes are based on objective measurements that quantifies results in order to avoid subjective reports on ‘feeling better’, making results more effective.
Physiotherapy is a link in the chain that encompasses the healthcare of an individual. Physiotherapists work alongside doctors, nurses, dentists, occupational therapists, parents, caregivers and social workers to restore, maintain and promote the general fitness and health of an individual.
Physiotherapists work on getting you back to what you love.
Types of physical therapy
There are many different types of physical therapy as the body of knowledge and application of physical therapy is large. Physiotherapists therefore specialize in a specific clinical area and most would have undergone further training in order to be specialized.
Sports physiotherapy targets the acute care, treatment, rehabilitation, prevention and education of athletes at all levels – whether that’s recreational or professional.
Orthopedic physiotherapy helps diagnose, manage, and treat disorders and injuries of the musculoskeletal system.
Geriatric physiotherapy is focused on diseases that generally occur as we age; hence geriatric care is usually focussed on the older adult. Conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, hip and joint replacement etc. are a part of geriatric physical therapy.
Neurological physiotherapy covers neurological disorders or diseases (also called neurohphysiotherapy). This field is focused on helping patients with diseases such as Alzheimer’s, MS, Parkinson’s, facial palsy, spinal cord injury, stroke and other chronic pains.
Cardiovascular and pulmonary rehab physiotherapy offers specialized therapy for a wide variety of cardiopulmonary disorders pre or post cardiac or pulmonary surgery. For example with coronary bypass surgery, the primary goals include increasing endurance and functional independence. Manual therapy can also be used to assist clearing of lung secretions experienced with cystic fibrosis.
Women’s health phyisotherapists address women’s issues related to the female reproductive system, child birth and post-partum.
Conditions physiotherapy can treat
Physiotherapist first performs an assessment, testing and measuring strength, range of motion, flexibility, posture, coordination, respiration, muscle performance and motor function. Based on the results of the assessment, the physiotherapist will design an individualized treatment plan that includes the strategy and targeted outcome.
Physiotherapists are comprehensively trained in deploying a large skillset in helping the patient achieve their results.
Manual therapy provides a hand on approach. Massage is used to reduce muscle tension and improve circulation while promoting healing. Joint mobilizations are passive movements aimed at a target synovial joint with the aim of achieving a therapeutic effect. Assisted stretching and traction are used to stretch and increase range of motion and mobility.
Exercises are prescribed to increase endurance, strength, flexibility and range of motion. Advanced exercises are aimed at increasing balance, coordination and maintenance. Education and exercises can also be applied with mobility aids such as prostheses, wheel chairs, crutches and other adaptive devices.
The most important part of the physiotherapy treatment process is education. It is what sets physiotherapists apart from other health professionals. In order to achieve the goals set by the physio and individual, the patient takes an active role in the treatment process in order to help prevent or manage injuries. Patient education is important because the patient will understand the underlying cause of his or her condition. The patient will also understand why the treatment regimen selected by the physiotherapist is appropriate and how the exercises prescribed will help in their recovery.
Modalities are used by physiotherapists to augment the physiotherapy treatment process and help speed up healing. Modalities reduce pain and inflammation. Some of the modalities used by physical therapists are heat (hot packs), cryotherapy (ice), interferential current (IFC), TENS, ultrasound, laser and shockwave therapy. Myofascial cupping is used to allow for a deeper level of myofascial release than a practitioners hand. Acupuncture and intramuscular stimulation (IMS, or dry needling) may also be part of some physiotherapy treatment regimens.
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10397 51 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6H 0K4
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