Physiotherapy is a medical science discipline. Its main goal is to maximize patient’s function using different physical means such as manual therapy, teaching of exercises, heat, cold and electrotherapy. Physiotherapy treatment seeks to correct articular, muscular and neural dysfunctions which lead to pain as well as altered muscle control, strength, endurance, coordination, agility and balance deficits.
The main goal of a physiotherapist is to help a patient reach their optimal physical functional level at any age. Patient goal setting is an important part of this process.
Determining the mechanism of injury, extent of tissue damage and early management strategies are essential keys to rehabilitation success. Early evaluation helps the patient understand the problem and what to do about it. Realistic short and long term goals will be set based on the clinical evaluation and in conjunction with collaborative input from the patient. Home management strategies and exercise programs will be established to empower the patient and facilitate optimum recovery and function.
Requisitions for diagnostic imaging such as x-ray, ultrasound and MRI will be made if indicated. As well, referrals to medical specialists will be made as appropriate.
When musculoskeletal pain does not resolve in an expected timeframe, a comprehensive evaluation needs to be done to establish next steps. Sometimes further imaging is required or referral to a medical specialist such as physiatrist, sport medicine physician or surgeon.
Acupuncture, manual therapy and exercise can also be used to re-establish normal nerve and muscle functioning. Education about injury or pain mechanisms can also be helpful in long term management of pain.
For many sports there are known risk factors associated with injury. The number one risk factor tends to be a previous injury that leaves the body functioning in a compensated state. Evaluation and improvement of fundamental movement patterns has been shown to be a useful tool to help individuals move better and minimize future injury, particularly associated with repetitive strain.
Use of a Functional Movement Screen or Selective Functional Movement Assessment can help evaluate potential pitfalls of movement patterns that can lead to injury. These evaluations look at basic movement patterns like squatting, lunging, bending, pushing and twisting to assess for problems related to mobility and stability that can predispose an individual to injury. Once found, areas of dysfunction can be addressed to facilitate better movement and injury prevention.
There is no single way to run correctly. All bodies have unique styles of movement. A gait and running analysis seeks to evaluate how each individual can optimize their running patterns to recover from or prevent injury and to optimize performance. Assessment of fundamental movement patterns, joint mobility, muscular strength, core stability, hip control and foot mechanics are made and then compared with findings from a running video.
Current evidence about running mechanics and shoe selection is used to optimize each runner’s form. Therapeutic Exercise programs are provided to assist with mobility and/or stability deficits.
Diagnostic imaging techniques such as x-rays, MRI and ultrasound can help us see inside the body. These tests facilitate diagnosis and inform appropriate management. Based upon results, the client may need referral to other medical specialists.
Physiotherapists with credentials are allowed to request the above diagnostic imaging tests. Louise received the proper credentials in 2012 and is on the Physiotherapy Alberta restricted Activity Roster for Ordering Diagnostic Imaging
Injury and disease management can be complicated. Many healthcare professional may need to be involved for comprehensive and effective care. Referrals can be made to sport physicians, orthopaedic specialists, dieticians, massage therapists, nurse practitioners, naturopaths, orthotists and bracing technicians.