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Physical Therapy or otherwise known as Physiotherapy is a health care profession which aims to promote, preserve and return mobility and body function by means of exercise techniques, modalities and proper assessment techniques to aid the main impairments of the patients. Physical therapy is propagated by means of a treatment plan that is usually derived from special testing and diagnosis of an individual. Therapy involves all aspects of rehabilitation including psychological, social and emotional well- being therefore all necessary measures are included in one treatment plan to obtain optimum gains for the patient.
Physical therapy had its beginnings from as early as 460 B.C. when Hector and Hippocrates used hydrotherapy (water therapy) and massage to aid their patients. During World War I the first physical therapists were referred to as reconstruction aides, whose primary duty is to aid in the rehabilitation of the wounded and immobilized in the army rehabilitation camps and hospitals. Most of them were women, who were involved in physical education and underwent lessons in practical nursing, massage and muscle rehabilitation under physicians. In 1921, the American Women’s Therapeutic Association was founded by Mary McMillan, who is one of the pioneers in physical therapy and the founding president of the American physical Therapy Association. Through the years many councils of Physical therapist’s aimed to develop a program that would rear and educate rehabilitation aides into professional therapists and at present Physical therapists are known to provide excellent health care even without the referral of physicians, due to the fact that they have a deep understanding with regards to patient evaluation and physical treatment.
Special areas of practice in physical therapy include cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, which deals with the treatment of patients who have or are recovering from cardiovascular conditions or pulmonary conditions. Treatment in this field aims to increase the body’s performance and endurance to raise the patient’s health status. Orthopedic physical therapy is an area of practice that deals with the assessment, treatment and progress of patients who are suffering from musculoskeletal conditions. These include proper knowledge on special rehabilitation techniques to hasten recovery and restore function. Neurological therapy aims to improve, if not fully restore body functions of patient’s who have suffered from mild to severe stages of neurological conditions such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries ,etc. Extensive knowledge on brain and nerve functions is needed to be able to locate areas of disability and paralysis and address them. Pediatric and Geriatric physical rehabilitation is an area of great importance since it is accompanied by all kinds of disorders and conditions accompanying a person’s age. In pediatrics, the special conditions (e.g. Cerebral Palsy) of children are addressed and focus is also placed on their level of cognition and adaptation to treatment and goal settings. For geriatric patients, conditions brought about by age and others not involving their primary disease are addressed in treatment. These may include psychological levels, emotional state and social behaviour. An understanding in the differences brought about by age is needed to properly determine what plan of approach will best suit each individual patient.
Physiotherapy is a branch of medicine that specializes with the rehabilitation of patient to reach their near-normal or normal functional capacity. It is an old branch of medicine which existed even at the time of the Ancient Greek. Before, it only involves simple massages and hydrotherapy, which is the use of water for treatment.
In the 1920s, the evolution of the profession began. The physiotherapist was then referred to as a trained assistant and was allowed to work in agencies that catered to muscle training, electrotherapy, therapeutic massages, hydrotherapy and they could only practice under the prescription of a licensed physician.
The profession has evolved since then. Physiotherapy is now part of the rehabilitation team which uses holistic approach to aid the patient in full recovery. The role of the physiotherapist changed dramatically through the years. They are allowed by law to evaluate, perform treatment, and do preventive care requiring the expertise in the field of physiotherapy. Technology has also made a tremendous contribution in the evolution of this profession. Nowadays, aside from the manual skills and techniques, physiotherapist also utilizes machines like ultrasound machine, traction machines, transcutaneous electrical stimulators and the like. Hydrotherapy also improved a lot. It now employs the use of whirpool baths for burn patients and swimming for exercises especially for patients with paralysis.
Physiotherapy as we know it today uses combination of many techniques. It usually depends on the case that the patient has. Physiotherapist uses manual manipulation techniques, superficial and deep massages, cold therapy, heat therapy, electrotherapy, different type of exercises. They also teach patients how to use assistive devices like cane, walker, and wheelchair if necessary. Use of prosthesis and orthosis are also in their line of work.
A physiotherapist can now work in a hospital setting, specifically in the Rehabilitation Department. Others chose to specialize in one area like Sports Rehabilitation and Medicine. There are careers also in caring for the elderly and children with special needs like the ones afflicted with cerebral palsy.
Usual cases that a physiotherapist handle can differ from time to time. Stroke, spinal cord injury, and traumatic brain injury are common ones. Sports injury like strain, sprain and fracture are also present. In the pediatric area, cerebral palsy would top the list.
Now, what does it take to be a physiotherapist? To evaluate a patient properly, you need to have a very good background on anatomy and physiology. An understanding of the disease process will also help a lot in determining the proper treatment approach that will help in the recovery of the patient. The physiotherapist would normally make a thorough evaluation and will identify the problems that the patient are encountering, usually limiting activities of daily living. After that, the physiotherapist would then design an appropriate treatment plan. They will also formulate short term goal and long term goal in terms of achieving base on the patient's problem list.
Knowing these basic facts, a career in physiotherapy is a rather challenging option. It is a fulfilling job guiding people towards recovery to their normal functional capacity to do the activities of daily living. Seeing a child walk for the first time or a man walk again is a great reward in itself.
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