Physiotherapy is a treatment for injuries, disorders and disease using physical methods. Physiotherapists do much more than just treat back and sport injuries. They are highly trained and work with many physical problems caused by illness, disease, injury and ageing. The goal is to reduce pain, improve function and improve a person’s quality of life.
Physiotherapists are clinical health professionals and use their knowledge in anatomy and physiology to improve mobility and function. Treatments are tailored to the individual using assessments and evidence-based treatment programmes.
What do Physiotherapists do?
Physiotherapy uses a range of techniques such as exercises, massage and heat treatments to treat injury or disease, rather than using drugs or surgery. Physiotherapy can reduce pain and improve movement while speeding up the healing process. Working closely with GPs, physiotherapists diagnose, assess, prevent and treat a variety of pain and movement problems.
Physiotherapists are highly qualified and must be registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency (AHPRA). Physiotherapists treat a wide range of health issues, some of these include:
Sprains and injuries
Neurological diseases (e.g. Parkinson’s disease)
Children’s development issues
Types of Physiotherapy
Physiotherapists work in a range of areas including children’s health, women’s health and sports medicine. Within these are three areas of practise:
Neurological: Used to treat nervous system disorders such as strokes, brain injuries, spinal injuries, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
Musculoskeletal: Also known as orthopaedic physiotherapy; this type of treatment is useful for back pain, sprains, strains, arthritis, incontinence, rehabilitation, sports injuries, posture issues, reduced mobility and work injuries.
Cardiothoracic: This is used to treat conditions such as asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and other cardio-respiratory disorders.
Every patient receives a treatment which is individualised to suit their requirements. Some of the therapies used include:
Exercise programmes: This may be used to strengthen the muscles, improve posture and for cardiovascular training and stretching.
Electrotherapy techniques: This may involve laser therapy, Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation (TENS), diathermy and ultrasound.
Manual therapies: This uses stretching, resistance training, joint manipulation and mobilisation.
While GPs are often seen as playing the primary role in chronic disease management, other health professionals also have a significant contribution to the treatment of chronic disease. Physiotherapists have the expertise to assess and care for people at various stages of chronic disease, and recognise that treatment and prevention often benefits from physical activity.
Physiotherapists can tailor therapeutic exercise programmes to individuals or groups for those suffering from, or at risk of chronic disease. Some of the chronic diseases which may benefit from physio include: cardiorespiratory conditions, type 2 diabetes and vascular or musculoskeletal conditions.
Seeing a Physio in Perth
You don’t need a referral from your GP to see a physiotherapist, however it may be a good idea to speak to your doctor about your options. Your physiotherapist will want to know about any major health problems you have, or have had in the past; including injuries. They may also want to know about the amount of physical activity you normally do.
The cost of physiotherapy varies. You may want to contact a physio near you to check before you go. If your doctor has referred you, some of the costs are covered by Medicare. If you have private health insurance you may have cover which includes physiotherapy.