Physiotherapy is a branch of health professions that focuses on the use of a variety of treatments
and therapies to promote mobility and function of the body.
The ultimate aim of physiotherapy is to improve the patient’s quality of life by making use of techniques that help with strength,
flexibility, balance, pain management, and also recovery from injury. This kind of therapy can be provided as a standalone treatment plan, or as part of a broader process that seeks to assist a patient in achieving overall health and wellness.
It is therefore aimed at addressing illness, diability, or injury that might limit a patient’s movement and general ability to function in everyday life. Physiotherapy has several specialized areas, like sports, orthopedics, and neurology, and is a service that can be applied in a wide variety of sectors because of its broad field.
Physiotherapists can practice in private therapy clinics, rehabilitation centers, hospitals,
schools, and fitness centers to name a few.
What does a Physiotherapist do?
Physiotherapists are trained medical practitioners, and have an in-depth knowledge of the body
and how it works. This allows them to assess a patient’s condition, diagnose, and propose the
best treatment plan needed for optimal recovery and health.
Aside from addressing the rehabilitation needs of a patient, a Physiotherapist can also be involved in guiding a patient
through preventative measures to avoid injury, as well as offer techniques that will optimize the
movement and function of their body. A thorough examination is done to assess the patient’s
condition, followed by a proposed treatment plan.
This branch of health care is very hands-on, and works through a variety of techniques based in massage and mechanical manipulation. The goal is to restore or preserve the body’s strength, mobility, and flexibility. Because of this, a
Physiotherapist develops close relationships with their patients, helping them through therapy
that can take anything between a few weeks to a few years to complete.
Who are the Physiotherapist’s patients?
Physiotherapists are able to apply their specialized knowledge and skills in a variety of different
sectors and therefore, their potential patients are just as varied. Most commonly, people affected
by illness, disability, injury, chronic pain, and professional sportspeople seek help from a
Treatment can be long-term, like maintaining optimal physical health in a sports
career, or short-term in the case of someone preparing for a physically demanding activity, like
giving birth. Patients recovering from a stroke or living with a debilitating condition, like
Parkinson’s or Multiple Sclerosis will also benefit greatly from physiotherapy.
Other potential patients may include:
- Sports injuries
- Chronic heart disease
- Chronic back pain
- Disabilities that limit movement and function
Taking into account that Physiotherapy can be used as a treatment as well as a preventative
measure, other patients who can benefit from this kind of therapy include those who want to
avoid certain health problems from developing.
For instance, a Physiotherapist is able to prevent health problems affecting the heart, respiratory system, brain and nervous system, as well as those affecting joints and bones. People who want to manage pain by means other than
medication are also good candidates for the Physiotherapist’s patient list.
What treatments do they use?
Since Physiotherapy is a field that covers a wide range of health problems, Physiotherapists are
skilled in using just as a wide a range of treatment methods.
Some of these include the following:
- Manual therapy | Joint manipulation, mobilization, resistance training, stretching
- Exercise programs | strengthening of muscles, posture correction, cardiovascular training
- Electrotherapy (TENS) | Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation | ultrasound laser therapy
Physiotherapists follow a holistic approach to treatment, because there are usually several things
to consider when looking at a patient’s problem. For instance, chronic back pain could be related
to bad posture, work, or being overweight.
It is important for the Physiotherapist to understand the patient’s condition in the bigger picture before a treatment plan can be developed that is best suited to them. A detailed examination is done, where the Physiotherapist will look at, not only
the patient’s health complaint, but at other areas including work, home environment,
background, and so forth.
In order to practice as a Physiotherapist in South Africa, a 4-year BSc Physiotherapy is required
from a University. All of the major universities in the country offer this degree option. To qualify
for tertiary education, a National Senior Certificate is needed, and this must meet the
prerequisites as stipulated by the degree course.
Once the degree is completed, it must be followed with one year of field training or community service at any government institution.
Physiotherapists going through this year of in-service training will also receive a salary and in
some cases, are provided with placement and accommodation as well.
How do they work together with the Clinic?
One cannot treat the body without also treating the mind, since the two are intrinsically linked.
At ZwavelStream we believe that in order for patients to achieve mental wellness, they must also
address issues relating to their physical wellbeing.
For this reason, our Physiotherapists work closely with all other mental health specialists at the clinic in order to best serve each individual patient’s path to overall health and wellness. With decades of experience and world-class skills
relating specifically to the mental health sector, our team of Physiotherapists are able to assist in
matters concerning a variety of health issues.
They are available in situations where pain management is required, to improve mobility and function for patients dealing with joint issues, for strength and relaxation exercises, leading recovery from injury and illness, addressing disabilities, and to assist in developing patient-centered exercise programs. In this way they form an integral part of our multi-disciplinary approach to healing.