What is physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is a healthcare profession that assesses, diagnoses, treats, and works to prevent disease and disability through physical means. Physiotherapists are experts in movement and function who work in partnership with their patients, assisting them to overcome movement disorders, which may have been present from birth, acquired through accident or injury, or are the result of ageing or life-changing events.



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Physiotherapy can help recover from injury, reduce pain and stiffness, and increase mobility. A physiotherapist can also help you prevent further injury by listening to your needs and working with you to plan the most appropriate treatment for your condition, including setting goals and treatment outcomes.

As first contact practitioners, a doctor's referral is not necessary to see a physiotherapist. Physiotherapists, doctors, and other health professionals will often work as part of a team to plan and manage treatment for a specific condition.

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What sort of treatment do physiotherapists use?

Physiotherapists are trained to assess your condition, diagnose the problem, and help you understand what’s wrong. Your treatment plan will take into account your lifestyle, activities, and general health.

The following are common treatment methods physiotherapists may use:

  • exercise programs to improve mobility and strengthen muscles
  • joint manipulation and mobilisation to reduce pain and stiffness
  • muscle re-education to improve control
  • airway clearance techniques and breathing exercises
  • soft tissue mobilisation (massage)
  • acupuncture
  • hydrotherapy
  • assistance with use of aids, splints, crutches, walking sticks and wheelchairs.

Where do physiotherapists work?

Physiotherapists work in all sectors of healthcare, including public hospitals, private practice, rehabilitation centres, sporting clubs and community health centres.

What qualifications are required to practice as a physiotherapist?

 

Physiotherapy courses vary across the country and entry may be through a bachelor, masters or professional doctorate program. Physiotherapists are required by law to be registered with the Physiotherapists Registration Board in the state or territory in which they are practising.