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4 Unique Services Offered by Physiotherapists


Physiotherapists, also called physical therapists throughout the world, gain education, training and understanding of how and why physical movement and function take place. The medical profession of physiotherapy is a practice using movement science. These professionals work with patients to restore function throughout the body's systems.

Physical therapists (PTs) work in a wide range of health settings and offer an expansive variety of services to treat people with a wide range of physical problems. They focus on improving the functioning of many body systems, including:

  • Brain and nervous system
  • Soft tissues, joints and bones
  • Heart, lungs and related physiology

Most PTs work independently, yet also as a member of a health and social care team. They use clinical reasoning skills and reflective behaviour to determine a patient-centred approach for solving individual physical problems and improving quality of life.

This individualized care usually starts when a doctor refers a patient for PT. Sometimes people realize their own needs and refer themselves to a physical therapist, too. Some emergency departments in Canada and Australia even employ physiotherapists within the triage system.

Clinical Specialties of Physical Therapists

Physical therapy involves a large body of knowledge. So physical therapists typically specialize in one or more clinical areas. This variety enables them to focus their education, training and expertise on particular physical regions. It also provides higher value to the patient needing treatment for one of these focused areas.

Clinical specialties for PTs can include:

  • Musculoskeletal and orthopedic
  • Cardiopulmonary
  • Neurology
  • Pediatrics
  • Sports Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Women's health
  • Rheumatology
  • Geriatrics and ageing
  • Medical conditions
  • Pain
  • Public health
  • Extended scope

General Categories of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy involves three general categories. These are exercise and functional training, manual therapy and modalities.

For therapeutic exercise and functional training, a physical therapist uses activities and exercises that work to strengthen weak muscles. These activities also improve flexibility, reroute neural pathways, correct muscle imbalances and change movement patterns.

Manual therapy involves hands-on treatment conducted by a physical therapist. Examples include massage, joint mobilization, manual traction and stretching.

For modalities, the PT involves non-invasive treatments designed to reduce pain and inflammation, increase blood flow and promote healing. The most common methods include the use of hot packs, ice or cold packs, electrical stimulation and ultrasound treatments.

Services a physical therapist provides typically include:

  • Pre- and post-operative care
  • Sports rehabilitation
  • Injury screenings and rehabilitation
  • Workplace injury rehabilitation
  • Work conditioning and hardening
  • Balance problem therapy
  • Gait analysis
  • General physical therapy

Four Unique Services Offered in PT

People expect to find the above services at a physical therapy treatment center. But a therapist partners with individual patients and uses methods best suited to help that person improve. This reason involves the creation of a unique care plan related to the diagnosis and featuring specific goals. Some of the more unique services offered in PT toward fulfillment of these goals can include:

  • Aquatic therapy, using water to improve movement and build strength
  • Cupping, to treat soft tissue and muscle dysfunction
  • Lymphedema treatment, to reduce arm or leg swelling
  • Personalized blood flow restriction, a type of rehabilitation that improves strength through low-intensity exercises

Regardless of the individual patient's needs, physiotherapists can help them achieve their specific goals for physical movement and strength.

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