What is a physiotherapist?

What is a physiotherapist?

You may have been to or know someone who has been a client of a physiotherapist, but what do they do?

A physiotherapist is a highly trained healthcare professional who assesses and treats their patient’s movement, functional injuries and/or impairments from an evidence-based perspective.

Treatment is often focused on education, manual therapy and rehabilitation involving movement and exercise.

A physiotherapist may treat injuries that have been sustained through sporting related accidents or other trauma (such as a workplace injury or motor vehicle accident). Additionally, a physiotherapist treat injuries for a patient acquired at birth or as part of the aging process. Some patients will also present to a physiotherapist for preventative approach to injury management.

Physiotherapists will breakdown the way a body moves (biomechanics) and assess the way the muscles are affecting its overall structure and function. They work from a patient centred perspective; a biopsychosocial (biological, mind and social) approach to treatment, and tailor the treatment to what will work for the individual.

What can you expect when you see a physiotherapist?

During the initial consultation, a physiotherapist will seek to find out as much as they can about your injury. The first part of an initial treatment session involves a subjective assessment. This is where you as a patient will be asked questions relating to how the injury occurred and where the pain or discomfort is. The follow up questions will focus on how this injury is impacting your daily life, what you do for work/study and other behaviours; such as social activities and family life.

This style of assessment enables the physiotherapist to gain an overall picture that enables them to treat you from a psychosocial perspective rather than just purely focusing on the injury. There is no point trying to prepare you for running 10km when your primary goal is to get back to playing social netball!! This is where the final step comes in to play… GOALS…It is important that a physiotherapist asks you what your goals are so that the treatment and interventions can be tailored to YOU!

A subjective assessment is followed by an objective assessment.  This is where the physiotherapist will ask you to perform movement tests, they will feel (palpate) the injury site before treating the site with both a hands-on and hands-off approach.

The treatment may include soft tissue mobilisation, airway clearance, dry needling, hydrotherapy and land based exercise rehabilitation, joint manipulation and pain management plans.

The patient is then given a timeline of how to manage the injury as well as a targeted plan for recovery.

Who can a physiotherapist help?

Physiotherapists can help both those with current injuries and those wishing to avoid injury. Treatments and conditions include:

  • Occupational health related injuries
  • Muscle pain and stiffness
  • Injury Prevention
  • Men’s and Women’s Health
  • Strength and conditioning
  • Sports injuries
  • Sprains and strains
  • Neurological conditions

About author: Sophie Garrity Sophie is a qualified physiotherapist graduating from the University of Melbourne with a Doctor of Physiotherapy.

Her areas of interest include Pilates, women’s health, occupational rehabilitation and low back pain. She finds it extremely rewarding to see how treatment and participation from patients can create significant changes in their conditions and overall quality of life.

Sophie is passionate about creating a meaningful experience for all of her patients; she enjoys building rapport and providing a patient-centred approach to her patients. Outside of the clinic, Sophie enjoys great Melbourne coffee, going to the gym, running (socially!), travelling, spending time with family and friends as well as trying out new restaurants and bars Melbourne has to offer.