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What does a Physiotherapist do?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A physiotherapist works with people who have become disabled by injury, illness, or age. The goal of the physiotherapist is to help patients regain their range of movement, or to support patients with permanent disabilities to prevent further damage and increase the patient's functionality. Physiotherapy is also known as physical therapy in some regions of the world, and these medical professionals can be found working in hospitals, outpatient clinics, sports clubs, and in roaming practices, bringing care to patients who cannot travel.

Typically, a physiotherapist establishes a long-term relationship with a patient, and he or she is part of a larger care team which is designed to support the patient through the healing process. When a patient is first referred for physiotherapy, the therapist will meet with the patient to perform an assessment, learning about what has caused the patient's disability, the level of the patient's disability, and the types of goals a patient might have. With this information in hand, the physiotherapist can establish a therapy program which is tailored to the patient's unique needs.

Physical exercises which are designed to develop the patient's muscle tone and strength are a core part of a physiotherapy plan. Physiotherapists may also use manipulation techniques such as massage and guided stretching to help their patients, and they also offer nutritional advice, body conditioning, and prophylactic care which is designed to prevent recurrence of injuries, and to avoid making an injury worse.

Physiotherapists can opt to work with specific types of patients, focusing on issues like elder care, pediatric physiotherapy, stroke rehabilitation, and so forth, or they may choose to have a general practice, in which they will interact with a range of patients in a variety of physical conditions. In addition to working with the musculoskeletal system to get patients moving, physiotherapists also address the pulmonary, cardiovascular, and neuromuscular systems, with the goal of helping the patient achieve a high level of general physical health.

Different nations require different levels of certification for a practicing physiotherapist. Some have relatively light training requirements, while others require physiotherapists to be nurses or doctors with more extensive training. People who are interested in a career in physiotherapy may want to find out about the specific requirements in the nation where they want to work, so that they can pursue training of an appropriate level. It is also a good idea to plan on attending continuing education opportunities like conferences, workshops, and seminars, to keep up with new trends in the field which may benefit patients.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Practical Adult Insights researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By staceybeck01 — On Sep 26, 2013

Thanks for all of the advice. I drove past some physiotherapy clinics and was thinking how I should probably go to one.

By anon305397 — On Nov 26, 2012

The importance of education when entering the physiotherapy field is vital to your future careers. Be sure to check out every possible university or college that you can.

By sherlock87 — On Jan 27, 2011

A lot of physiotherapist jobs require master's degrees, but you can become a physiotherapist assistant without one, either while getting your bachelor's degree or shortly afterward.

By panda2006 — On Jan 24, 2011

Sometimes physiotherapy can work really well alongside things like chiropractic therapy, massage or even acupuncture. If you are interested in those as well for your condition, it may be important to find a physiotherapist who supports these forms of medical treatment, because some physical therapists do not.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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