Physiotherapy provides anyone disabled by injury or illness a chance to get moving again. The goal is to promote mobility and improve functional ability. Therapy is a medical standard for people recovering from an accident, recuperating after a heart attack or stroke or learning to live with an amputation or paralysis. Whether a disability is temporary or permanent, physical therapy helps the body adapt during the healing process.
Why Physiotherapy Matters
The idea that massage and muscle manipulation could benefit healing goes back as far as Hippocrates. The techniques found in this medical specialty apply to patients of all ages from newborn to geriatric. The goal is to diagnose problems that impede mobility. Once the diagnosis is complete, the therapist develops a comprehensive plan to improve the quality of life with massage, heat, water and electrical treatments and the use of mobility devices such as a walker or hand bars. Physiotherapy helps the body to adapt and become more mobile.
What are the Benefits?
The exact benefits will depend greatly on the diagnosis and overall health of the patient. The therapist attempts to treat the symptoms of the underlying condition. For example, a person recovering from knee replacement surgery would have difficulty with weight-bearing and mobility. The therapist would design a treatment protocol intended to improve range of motion and strength in the supporting musculature.
Pain reduction – Pain is a common complaint for patients seeking physiotherapy. The cause may be illness, injury, aging or inactivity. Regardless, the practitioner will work to make the affected area limber and strong to help decrease pain.
Flexibility – Besides reducing the pain, increasing the flexibility of limbs provides improved mobility so daily tasks are not as difficult. Improved flexibility allows the patient more independence.
Endurance – Eliminating pain and improving muscle strength naturally leads to better endurance. A patient that once could not walk more than three steps may make it across the room after a while. The gradual improvement of endurance is a primary goal of physiotherapy.
Reduce dependence on medication – With less pain and better mobility, a patient may be able to reduce their medication consumption in time. Prolonged use of pain pills leads to organ damage and possible addiction.
Adaption – The human body is able to adapt after trauma. Physical therapy may be aimed at teaching a person to work around a permanent injury. For example, a stroke victim may have to learn to walk again. Retraining creates new pathways in the brain that bypass the areas damaged by the stroke. PT is an effective way to education amputees about prosthetic use, to help patients with spinal injuries walk again; therapy is a necessity when the body needs to learn a new way to handle mobility challenges.
Physiotherapy gets you moving again. It might be the means to get back on the field after a sports injury or back to work after a heart attack or accident. Physiotherapy improves your ability to move and function in daily life with as little discomfort as possible.
Caera Morison is a physiotherapist at CBI Health Group in Toronto. She compassionately works with patients every day to diagnose, treat and restore patients to health. She believes that physiotherapy not only heals a patient physically, but can also help an individual build confidence as they adapt and become more mobile after a temporary or permanent disability.