What Is Physiotherapy? The 411

Physiotherapy is a healthcare profession that assess, diagnoses, treats and works to prevent diseases and disability through physical means. Essentially physiotherapy is a clinical health science and profession that aims to rehabilitate and improve a person’s ability to move and function. Physiotherapists are experts in movement and function who work in partnership with their patients, assisting them to overcome movement disorders, which may have been present from birth, acquired through accident or injury, or are the result of ageing or life-changing events. They utilise their expertise in anatomy and physiology to assess and treat people with a variety of health conditions They use objective assessments to develop an evidence based treatment programmed tailored ot individual clients.

There are also paediatric physiotherapists who are trained to work with children and adolescents. 

Physiotherapists can help people recover from injury, reduce pain and stiffness, and increase mobility. A physiotherapist can also help you prevent further injury by listening to your needs and working with you to plan the most appropriate treatment for your condition, including setting goals and treatment outcomes.

What sort of treatment do physiotherapist use? 

Physiotherapists are trained to assess your condition, diagnose the problem, and help you understand what’s wrong. Your treatment plan will take into account your lifestyle, activities, and general health.

The following are common treatment methods physiotherapists may use:

  • exercise programs to improve mobility and strengthen muscles
  • joint manipulation and mobilisation to reduce pain and stiffness 
  • muscle re-education to improve control 
  • airway clearance techniques and breathing exercises 
  • soft tissue mobilisation (massage) 
  • assistance with use of aids, splints, crutches, walking sticks and wheelchairs 

Where do physiotherapists work?

Physiotherapists work in all sectors of healthcare, including public hospitals, private practice, rehabilitation centres, sporting clubs and community health centres.

What qualifications are required to practice as a physiotherapist? 

Physiotherapy courses vary across the country and entry maybe through a bachelor, masters or professional doctor program. Physiotherapists are required by law to be registered with the Physiotherapists Board in the state or territory in which they are practising.

                  (source: Australian Physiotherapy Association, The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne)