Physiotherapy…What is it exactly?

This month we are going to answer a question that we get asked A LOT by our patients. And because we get asked it so much, we thought we would dedicate a whole blog to it. The question we refer to is ‘What is Physiotherapy?’. To answer this question, we’ll give you some insight into what Physio is, how it can help you, and the sorts of things you can expect to experience during a typical consultation with a Physiotherapist.

So… What is Physiotherapy

If you are looking for a simple definition of what Physiotherapy is, we think the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne sums the profession up very nicely. They say, “Physiotherapy is a clinical health science and profession that aims to rehabilitate and improve a person’s ability to move and function”. The lead governing body of Physiotherapy in Australia, the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) say that “Physiotherapists help you get the most out of life. They help you recover from injury, reduce pain and stiffness, increase mobility and prevent further injury. They listen to your needs to tailor a treatment specific to your condition”. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!

Physiotherapy… What is it exactly

Basically, if you have hurt yourself or have a long-standing mobility issue, there is a good chance seeing a Physiotherapist is going to be beneficial to you. We use our expertise in the anatomy, physiology and biomechanics (i.e. how the body moves) of the human body to assess and provide treatment to people of all types with a wide range of health problems.

And to ensure you are in the safest hands possible, each Physiotherapist has to obtain a university degree and be registered by law with the Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency (AHPRA). So, you won’t be walking in and placing your health in the hands of any unqualified practitioner. Your Physio has obtained an academic and clinical skill qualification to ensure they provide you with the best possible evidenced based care.

What to expect during your appointment

For those who have never seen a Physio, we understand it can be quite daunting booking your first appointment. Fear of the unknown… What are they going to ask me? Will I have to get undressed? It’s perfectly natural to feel these things when you are trying something new. But ask someone who regularly uses the services of a Physio and they will be able to put your mind at rest. Physio’s are friendly and knowledgeable people. Yes, they ask you questions, and yes you might have to show your arms, legs and other body areas during the consultation, but everything is done with the patient’s well-being in mind. We know getting undressed can be embarrassing for some people, so we always advise you to wear comfortable loose clothes like shorts and a sports top, and if we require to see an area of the body like your abdomen or back, rest assured we’ll only look where we need to, and of course you always have the right to decline if you’re uncomfortable. Your Physiotherapist will ensure your modesty and privacy are always maintained during an assessment or treatment to ensure you feel safe and protected at all times and cover you with towels where appropriate. We promise there is nothing to be afraid of.

After you have arrived for your appointment and have been greeted by your Physio or receptionist, you will likely be asked to fill out some paperwork that takes care of your personal details and all the administration stuff. Then you’ll be directed into a room where your Physio will sit down with you and talk to you about why you are there, and most importantly, what you want to achieve with their help. Once they have all the information they need (expect questions relating to lifestyle, occupation, social life, sleep, exercise and hobbies… They are all important), they will then carry out an assessment. During the assessment they will look at the way you move. The physio may even move some body parts for you and carry out a range of tests so they can come to an accurate diagnosis. Once they have a diagnosis, there’ll be a brief discussion to let you know exactly what is happening, what treatment is required, and a general plan laid out, so you know exactly what is going to be involved. Before your Physio carries out any treatment on you, they will always get your consent and tell you why they are wanting to perform that treatment.

Physio’s use a wide variety of techniques to treat their patients. These might include soft tissue massage, joint mobilisation and manipulation, dry needling, hydrotherapy (i.e. the use of water in rehab), exercise, education and treatments that may use treatment aids such as splints, braces, tapes, crutches. This obviously depends on the issue you are being treated for, as each person and their rehab is completely unique.

By the end of your initial consultation, you will have a clear explanation of what is going on with your body and a plan of attack to get you out of pain in the quickest and safest way possible.

If your Physio thinks you require a scan of a body part, or the opinion of another health professional such as a GP or specialist, they will discuss this with you.

So, there you have it. We think we’ve covered just about everything. If you are wanting to book a Physio appointment, or are looking to find out more information, please do not hesitate to contact us. Click here to make a appointment online. Or call us on 6282 5898. We are ready to help you!