The profession addresses orthopaedic, neurological and cardiopulmonary problems among infants, children, adults and geriatric populations.
Many physiotherapists consult in private practice and physiotherapists treat a wide array of conditions. Orthopaedic cases (this includes sports injuries, fractures, spinal pain and headaches to name a few) are the most common types of patients physiotherapists treat in a clinical setting. Physiotherapy treatment may involve therapeutic exercise to improve strength, range of motion and endurance and to correct postural and muscle imbalance, joint mobilisation, manipulation and soft tissue massage, as well as stretching and trigger point therapy to reduce stiffness and to relieve pain.
Patients with neurological disorders such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, cerebral palsy and spinal cord injury can benefit greatly with physiotherapy treatment. Interventions focus on muscle re-education and control, rehabilitation of fine and gross motor skills, improving daily function, regaining strength and flexibility, learning how to perform safe transfers, restoring and improving gait and training in the use of mobility aids.
For children suffering from cerebral palsy, physiotherapy is essential in helping to reduce spasticity and deformity, improving postural control, teaching children how to use assistive devices and doing all that is necessary to maximise the child's functional independence. A physiotherapist also educate the family so they can help carryover what the child has learned during therapy sessions.
Cardiopulmonary conditions respond well to physiotherapy intervention. Patients who have difficulty performing their activities of daily living, or who have shortness of breath and decreased endurance, can achieve markedly improved quality of life through guided exercise and resistance training. Intervention also includes manual therapy and exercise to help clear secretions in the lungs, counselling about risk factors, patient education to prevent future recurrence and behaviour modification. For those patients who have had cardiopulmonary surgery, physiotherapy is initiated early to prevent the patient from losing strength and function.
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