Physiotherapy? Allow us to explain!
It’s common to come across client’s attending Physiotherapy for the first time who have no idea what we do. Usually they were “told to come” by a friend, family member, or their Family Doctor. While our Professional Association does it’s part to help promote us, there still appears to be a real gap in public knowledge surrounding Physiotherapy and what Physiotherapists do.
When I have a conversation with a first time client I like to highlight some key points.
Physiotherapists are experts at assessing movement, not just injuries.
We spend a great deal of time in University and post-graduate classes assessing injuries. However, sometimes an injured body part can be the victim rather than the criminal. A Physiotherapist can then assess the body’s movements as a whole to figure out if a dysfunctional movement pattern is putting undue stress on a structure and causing the perceived injury.
Physiotherapists have many tools to help fix an injury.
Physiotherapists are trained in many techniques to help make things feel better. Manual therapy techniques are a staple of Physiotherapy and involve using our hands to release tight muscles, mobilize stiff joints, and manipulate joints that don’t move at all.
Spinal manipulation is most commonly associated with Chiropractors but this is a technique Physiotherapists do as well (see Advanced Activities below).
Another common tool of the trade is the use of needles (also an Advanced Activity).
Acupuncture needles are used to administer either Acupuncture or Intrasmuscular stimulation (IMS) treatments to help facilitate healing, reduce pain and inflammation, and release tight muscles to improve their function.
Physiotherapists also use machines such as therapeutic ultrasound and shockwave therapy to help facilitate healing; and machines that produce electrical current to help retrain the function of muscles after an injury.
What is an Advanced Activity?
The College of Physiotherapists of Alberta regulates the Profession and sets the requirements a Physiotherapist must meet in order to perform an Advanced Activity. These Activities require special training and have strict requirements in order for a Physiotherapist to use them in Practice.
Spinal manipulation, the use of dry needles, and ordering of diagnostic imaging are all considered Advanced Activities in Alberta.
Physiotherapists are experts in exercise prescription.
A point I always make with my clients is that a treatment is only as good as the exercise that reinforces it. If I treat you, and we make a change in a muscle, or a joint, or a movement; there has to be some kind of homework to reinforce the change and make it last. Otherwise things just go back to how they were. Many treatments are effective at reducing pain, but the correct exercises are essential to keep it from returning. A Physiotherapist spends a minimum of six and a half years in University studying the body and understanding how it moves. It should be no surprise assessing movement, identifying injury inducing mechanics, and providing the appropriate exercise to help fix a problem is right in our wheelhouse.
If you have not been to a Physiotherapist and are wondering if it is right for you, we encourage you to get in touch. We offer an initial consultation at no charge to discuss how Physiotherapy can help and if it is right for the issue at hand. If our clinic isn’t the right fit for you, we have plenty of friends all over Calgary that we’d be happy to recommend.
We take pride in helping educate people who have questions about their health and we strongly believe Physiotherapy can provide many of the answers to those questions.