Physical therapy and rehabilitation is a medical specialization that treats problems of movements and functional abilities. Rehabilitation programs require active participation of patients in order to have a more comfortable and rapid recovery period. Physiotherapy and physical therapy are the same thing. Physiotherapists (Physical therapists) are specialists who implement effective methods in the diagnosis and treatment of serious problems such as illnesses, injuries, disabilities. Physical therapy is a part of treatments of many problems, such as brain damage and stroke, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), chronic pain and sports injuries.
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Physiotherapy and rehabilitation are interchangeably used terms. However, their meanings are different. Rehabilitation is a process of reforming something. It can be a part of any comprehensive treatment program. Physiotherapy is a type of rehabilitation that focuses on physical strength and movement. Both aim to fasten the recovery process.
Physical therapy (Physiotherapy) is a medical branch that helps people regain their strength after an illness or injury, improve the physical functions and movements of people with disabilities, raise and maintain their overall health level. Physiotherapy:
Rehabilitation is a complementary treatment that helps restore or improve physical, mental and/or cognitive abilities lost due to an illness or injury or as a side effect of a treatment. Additionally it can also be used for the management of long-term health conditions such as Parkinson, MS. Rehabilitation helps:
The rehabilitation team or physiotherapist sets both short and long term goals for each problem. In most cases, goals aim at helping people walk again. They help with daily activities the patient needs to do (such as dressing, personal care, bathing, cooking and shopping).
The ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life, reduce the level of dependence on others, and ensure a safe return to society.
Physiotherapists focus on both prevention and treatment practices. Some diseases that physiotherapy treats:
Orthopedic physiotherapy is a part of the treatment of musculoskeletal diseases such as sprains, back and lower back pain, arthritis, strains, urinary incontinence, bursitis, posture problems, sports and workplace injuries, as well as decreased mobility. Post-operative rehabilitation is also listed in this category. (1)
Physiotherapeutic treatment methods can relieve pain or eliminate pain completely. It can restore the function of muscles and joints. Removing pain or healing the wound with physiotherapy reduces the need for surgical intervention.
Physiotherapists are also aware of the specific risks of injury to which different sports can pose. They can design appropriate treatments and disability prevention practices to ensure safe return to sports. (1)
Physiotherapy works well for loss of mobility due to nervous system disorders, including stroke, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, MS and Parkinson’s disease. (2)
Physiotherapy strengthens the weakened parts of the body, improves gait and balance. Physiotherapists assists paralyzed patients to be more independent at home and their surroundings by improving their ability to move, and reduce the need for care for their daily life activities such as toilet, bathroom, dressing. (3)
As a part of the diabetes management plan, exercise helps control blood sugar tremendously. People with diabetes may experience numbness in their legs and feet. Physiotherapists provide appropriate care and training to these patients to prevent and solve such problems.
Both physical therapy and rehabilitation help treat asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and other cardio-respiratory disorders. Patients undergo heart rehabilitation after a heart attack or a procedure, or take physiotherapy for functional disorders.
Physiotherapeutic strengthening, conditioning and breathing exercises can improve patients’ quality of life in lung problems such as asthma and COPD. Physiotherapy can also help clear the fluid in the lungs.
At the beginning of physiotherapy, the risk of falling is checked. If you have a high risk of falling, physiotherapists will assist you with balance and coordination-enhancing exercises and devices that support your walking. If there is an imbalance, physiotherapists can perform special maneuvers that can quickly repair vestibular function, reduce or eliminate dizziness symptoms.
Aging may cause arthritis, osteoporosis, and old people may need joint prostheses. Physiotherapists assist them in adapting to the joint prosthesis and managing arthritic or osteoporotic conditions.
Physiotherapy can also provide special treatments for intestinal incontinence (gas and fecal incontinence), breast cancer, constipation, fibromyalgia, lymphedema, male pelvic health, pelvic pain, and urinary incontinence problems. It can help manage women’s special conditions such as pregnancy and postpartum care.
Physiotherapy is also a part of cancer treatment or palliative care due to fatigue, pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of muscle strength.
Treatments are designed for each individual for their specific needs.
Manual therapy is a technique that a physiotherapist uses his/her hands to manipulate, activate and massage body tissues. Physiotherapists receive training that includes techniques used by chiropractors, osteopathy, massage therapists, and kinesiologists. (4)
Physiotherapists prepare exercise programs such as muscle strengthening, posture training, cardiovascular stretching. These are:
Correct sitting and posture are also a part of customized physiotherapy treatment. Practicing these healthy habits can help get rid of chronic pain and other symptoms.
During the first therapy session, the physiotherapist examines and evaluates the needs of the patient. He/she asks about the pain or other symptoms, the ability to do or carry out daily chores, how well the patient sleeps, and his/her medical history. (5)
Customized treatment plan that physiotherapist designs with the patient includes helpful exercises and other treatment applications. Besides, auxiliary devices are prescribed to support moving when necessary.
Physiotherapists are highly trained healthcare professionals working on the treatment and prevention of pain and dysfunctions caused by injury, illness and aging. Their tasks include:
In some cases, physiotherapists are asked to plan and implement social fitness programs.
A physiotherapist is a university graduate of a 4-year bachelor’s program in Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation department. During this education, students take various theoretical and applied courses such as science courses in anatomy, physiology, physics as well as basic medical courses in neurology, internal medicine, orthopedics and occupational courses in hydrotherapy, massage, exercise techniques, and athletic health.
Physiotherapists who can work in public and private hospitals after graduation may specialize in areas such as children, orthopedics, neurological diseases or sports injuries.