What is Physiotherapy and Does it Work?
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What is Physiotherapy and Does it Work?

What is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is a one amongst many health professions which helps restore, maintain and maximize a patient’s strength, movement, function, and their overall well-being. Physiotherapists have a deeper understanding of how the body works, the musculoskeletal conditions and special skills to access and treat injury or disability.

Physiotherapy includes prevention of injury, pain management, physical and neurology rehabilitation and promotion of health & fitness. Physiotherapists work hand in hand with other allied health professionals like occupational therapist, speech therapist to provide optimal patient care.

Physiotherapy is a vast science. Various other therapy fields like occupational therapy, speech therapy, vision therapy, sensory therapy are an integral part of it.

The Right Physiotherapy Exercises

A home exercise prescription is a compulsory part of the physiotherapy treatment. Exercises have been proven to be very crucial in the management of musculoskeletal conditions. To avoid mistakes, ensure that your physiotherapist creates a regular assessment and treatment plan and prepares the exercises. The exercises will help you prevent injuries and give pain relief while focusing on the right goal.

The programme should have various types of exercises directed towards the impairment of the specific condition you have. It is important to ensure that you use the correct exercises in physiotherapy/ occupational therapy parameters (repetitions/number of sets, rhythm, duration, number of times per day/week, resistance level).

Mobility movements help lubricate your joint surfaces and maintain or increase range of motion. They are repeated movements on a specific body segment to the maximum level allowed.

Physiotherapy Exercise Types

Stretching exercises.

The stretching exercises are done to improve flexibility. The goal is to pull the original muscle to stretch it. Aligning the body part involved through corrections of compensations makes the exercise more effective. Also, ensure you breathe well during the workout to relax the muscles by avoiding resistance. This exercise type is done for a long time for short duration times.

Strengthening exercises.

This exercise can improve endurance, muscle power, and strength. The exercises can be addressed to two different types; stabilizers or mobilizing muscles. Strengthening can be done using pulley systems, dumbbells, your body weight, elastic bands or hands-free.

Proprioception exercises.

The exercise is recommended when there is a decreasing ability to know when the body is in position or its movement. For instance, to improve the lower limb, a patient can be challenged to balance on one leg. To improve the direction of movement, you can be asked to draw alphabetical letters with the end of your trained limb.

Functional exercises.

After a physical injury or a brain injury, moving is no longer easy; functional exercises are prescribed to practise movement daily. In this case, the physiotherapist helps you practise the movements that you are accustomed to in your normal life. That is in your sport, at school or work.

Cardio-vascular exercises.

These include; running, stationary biking, swimming and walking. The exercises are indicated to regain your previous level effort. Yoga helps achieve cardiovascular health, mobility, strength, flexibility, and proprioception.

Your physiotherapist will help you perform the above different exercises in the best way possible to improve your health issues.

What is Physiotherapy used for?

Physiotherapists use their skills and knowledge for assessment and treatment of a wide range of conditions, which include;

  • Heart and lung conditions
  • Childhood conditions
  • Neurological conditions
  • Conditions that occur in old age
  • Bone and joint conditions

Here are more details on the conditions;

Bone and joint conditions

One of the sectors that physiotherapy focuses on is the treatment of injuries affecting joints and bones. After a careful assessment of the medical imaging, the physiotherapists assist patients recovering from orthopedic surgery (surgery to correct deformed or damaged bones).

The physiotherapist may come up with a programme to help improve the coordination of balance such as strength training and exercises. They may use electrical stimulation to stimulate muscles and nerves.

Heart and lung conditions

Physiotherapists can treat the following people;

  • Individuals who have had a heart attack.
  • Patients of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); a collection of lung conditions such as chronic obstructive airways disease, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis
  • Cystic fibrosis. This is an inherited disorder that causes mucus inside the body to be sticky and thick clogging important body segments such as lungs. ‘Clapping’ on the patients back as they lie down can help loosen the mucus build-up on lungs so that they can cough it out.

Neurological conditions

Physiotherapists can also help individuals with brain and nervous system conditions. Some common conditions that require physiotherapy treatment include:

  • Stroke; a condition where the blood supply to the brain is cut off
  • Multiple sclerosis: The condition affects a patient’s nervous systems which control the body balance and movement. Difficulty walking, issues with fine motor skills, vision loss, pain and fatigue are some common symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
  • Parkinson’s disease: a chronic illness that affects how the brain coordinates the body movement.
  • Cerebral palsy: This is a brain injury condition affecting the movement and coordination of a kid along with other functions like speech and vision.
  • Spina bifida: A brain condition damaging and deforming the spine.

Neurological conditions affect a person’s coordination and cause paralysis at some point. It can also cause muscle pain making it difficult to move independently. Focused neurological physiotherapy is necessary in such cases.

Conditions that occur in old age

As we get old, our bodies become vulnerable to conditions such as;

  • Arthritis that causes swelling and pains of the joints like knees, hands, neck pain, etc.
  • Osteoporosis, which makes the bones brittle and thin.

Physiotherapy can also help patients recovering from hip replacement surgery

Physiotherapists also play a crucial role in general care as well as their well-being by improving fitness and their overall health to help them stay independent and active.

Physical Therapy Vs. Physiotherapy: What is the difference?

The names ‘physical therapy’ and ‘physiotherapy’ confuse many patients as they try to understand what they should sign up for in a clinic. However, there is no difference between the two terms; in fact, they can be used as synonyms. Many doctors argue that physiotherapy is inclined to manual therapy. However, both the physiotherapist and physical therapist can help patients suffering from injuries and all the conditions mentioned earlier.

Benefits of Physiotherapy

  1. Eliminate or remove pain.

Manual therapy techniques, for example, joint and soft tissue mobilization, electrical stimulation, taping, ultrasound,  massage therapy, dry needling, internal medicine and therapeutic exercise restore the functionality of joint and bones reducing pain. The exercises also prevent the pain from resurfacing

  1. Avoid surgery.

Physical therapy can help save on costs because it may help reduce the pain or heal an injury. If this happens, you do need to go through surgery. If the pain persists and you still have to go for surgery, you heal faster due to the pre-physiotherapy.

  1. Improve mobility.

Physical therapy can help individuals of any age who have issues moving, walking or trouble in standing. Strengthening and stretching exercises can restore a patient’s ability to move. Individuals with crutches, canes, access to orthotic prescription or other assistive devices can benefit from physiotherapy exercises. Through an individual plan, it’s possible to practise the important life activities to go about them with safety and maximum performance.

  1. Recovery from a stroke.

During a stroke, it is possible to lose the ability to move. Physical therapy helps quicken the recovery process as it strengthens weakened parts of the body, and improve gait and balance. Therapeutic exercises can help stroke patients get the ability to move around on their bed and gain independence. This may help reduce the burden of bathing, dressing, toileting and other activities during the day.

  1. Prevention or recovery from a sports injury.

Physical therapists know how different sports increase the risk of certain types of injuries (for example, stress fractures for distance runners). They can, therefore, create a programme to prevent injuries or recover from the fractures. Sports physiotherapy includes sports massage, exercise prescriptions, sports medicine, etc.

  1. Improve your balance and prevent falls.

When you sign up for physiotherapy, you get screened for all the risks. If you are at the risk of falling, the physical therapist will give you exercises that mimic life situation to challenge and improve your balance. Therapists can also help you acquire assistance and coordination devices to help a patient walk safely. If the issue is the vestibular system, therapists perform certain manoeuvres that improve vestibular functioning, eliminate symptoms of vertigo or dizziness.

  1. Manage vascular and diabetic conditions.

Exercises can help control sugar levels, which makes it a crucial part of the diabetic recovery process. Therapists also teach diabetic patients on proper foot care to manage the sensation of their legs and feet.

  1. Manage age-related issues.

Our bodies change as we grow old and increase the chances of osteoporosis, arthritis or the need for joint replacement. Therapists can help recover from joint replacements and manage other conditions.

  1. Manage lung and heart disease.

After a heart attack, patients complete cardiac rehabilitation. However, if the condition still affects your daily activities, physical therapy may be crucial. When it comes to pulmonary problems, physical therapy improves a patient’s quality of life through conditioning, strengthening and breathing exercises helping clear fluids in the lungs.

  1. Manage women’s health conditions.

There are certain issues all women go through such as post-partum care and pregnancy. Physical therapists in coordination with obstetrics and gynaecology specialists can help manage these conditions. They can also give special treatment for constipation, lymphedema, breast cancer, fibromyalgia, male pelvic health, urinary incontinence, and pelvic pain.

Final Word

Physiotherapy is vital in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. You do not need to be going for surgery or recovering from an injury to go for the therapy sessions. Physiotherapy can be of great help in managing the conditions of people living with chronic conditions for a quality life. Thanks to physiotherapy, patients of stroke who had to depend on the help of others for toileting, bathing and moving around now can master the art and be independent in their daily life. Physiotherapists also help individuals avoid injuries based on their daily life activities.