The question “what is physiotherapy?” is commonly asked because unless you’ve had an injury or condition that requires us, you would not know. The Canadian Physiotherapy Association defines physiotherapy as follows:
Physiotherapy is a first contact, autonomous, client-focused health profession dedicated to:
- Improving and maintaining functional independence and physical performance,
- Preventing and managing pain, physical impairments, disabilities and limits to participation; and
- Promoting fitness, health and wellness.
Physiotherapy services are those that are performed by physiotherapists or any other trained individuals working under a physiotherapist’s direction and supervision.
Physiotherapists analyze the impact of injury, disease or disorders on movement and function. Their unique contribution to health care is to promote, restore and prolong physical independence by enhancing a client’s functional capacity. Physiotherapists encourage clients to assume responsibility for their health and participate in team approaches to health service delivery.
Physiotherapy is anchored in movement sciences and concerned with the function of multiple body systems and aims to enhance or restore function. Physiotherapy is committed to health, lifestyle, and quality of life. This holistic approach incorporates a broad range of physical and physiological therapeutic interventions and aids.
To achieve health goals, physiotherapists adopt state of the art diagnostic and assessment procedures and tools in order to plan preventive and therapeutic courses of intervention. Physiotherapists work in private and public settings providing client interventions as well as management, educational, research and consultation services.
Physiotherapists receive a university based education that provides a foundation of modern science for the profession. By monitoring the development of physical and physiological approaches and the expansion of alternative therapies, such approaches are incorporated into practice and considered complementary therapies when sufficient evidence is available.
It is against the law to call yourself a physical therapist or physiotherapist in Ontario if you are not registered with the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario. Check here to make sure your provider is registered.
Physiotherapists apply a collaborative and reasoned approach to holistic assessment, diagnosis and planning, intervention and evaluation, in particular focusing on the musculoskeletal, neurological and cardiorespiratory systems.
Physiotherapy includes but is not limited to:
- Assessment of clients with actual or potential impairments, pain, functional limitations, disabilities or other health-related conditions using detailed history-taking, as well as specific tests and measures for screening, establishing a diagnosis and monitoring.
- Diagnosis resulting from assessment findings and clinical reasoning to determine abilities, functional needs and potential for change.
- Planning an intervention strategy that addresses the prognosis and follow-up and incorporates the application of selected approaches and techniques supported by the best evidence available.
- Implementing selected interventions safely to relieve pain; achieve and maintain health and fitness, functional independence and physical performance; and manage the identified impairments, disabilities and limits to participation.
- Evaluation of health status as a baseline for monitoring or to determine the result, impact, or effectiveness of physiotherapy intervention,
- Education of the profession, other health professionals, the public and clients with the intention of transferring knowledge and skills and developing understanding, independence and competence.
- Consultation that provides professional advice and solutions addressing a wide range of health service and health status issues.
- Research that encompasses the application of critical inquiry, as well as participation in or assessment of findings from research activities.
- Service management related to planning, directing, organizing and monitoring service delivery and effective utilization of resources.
- Communication with clients, team members and others to achieve collaboration and service coordination.