About Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy: Your Mobility is in Good Hands.

What is Physiotherapy?

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.
  • Promoting fitness, health and wellness.

Physical therapy services are those that are performed by physiotherapists or any other trained individuals working under a physical therapist’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.

Physiotherapy is 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. Physical therapists 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.

Primary Functions

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 physical therapy 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.

Physiotherapy Interventions

Physical therapy interventions include, but are  by no means limited to, the following broad categories of:

  • Education, consultation, health promotion and prevention services.
  • Therapeutic exercise including testing and conditioning, neurotherapeutic approaches and a carefully selected range of active, passive and assisted exercise.
  • Soft tissue and manual therapy techniques; including massage, spinal and peripheral joint mobilization and manipulation.
  • Physical, electrotherapeutic and mechanical agents; and acupuncture.
  • Cardiorespiratory techniques including airway clearance methods.
  • Skin and wound care.
  • Management of incontinence including pelvic floor re-education.
  • Functional activity training and work re-training.
  • Prescription, fabrication and application
  • Environmental change, focusing on removing barriers to function.

Physiotherapy Education

Entry-level physiotherapy education in Canada takes place in one of thirteen university programs,each affiliated with a faculty of medicine and accredited with the Accreditation Council of Canadian Physiotherapy Academic Programs (ACCPAP) and the (US) Council on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). The minimum entry-level educational qualification to practise physiotherapy in Canada is a Baccalaureate level degree. Many programs offer post-graduate programs in physiotherapy, rehabilitation or related disciplines at the Master’s level or Doctoral level.

The entry-level educational curriculum includes,but is not limited to,the study of: biological sciences (e.g.anatomy, physiology, pathology, pathokinesiology); social sciences (e.g.psychology, sociology); applied sciences (e.g.human development, biomechanics and exercise physiology); clinical sciences (e.g. physical and functional pharmacology); scientific inquiry (e.g.research, statistics, literature reviews) and professional issues (e.g.health policy, ethics, interdisciplinary practice, management). (CDPAP and CPA,1995)

In addition, professional practice or clinical education is obtained through a minimum of 1,000 hours, in the clinical setting, which begins with entrance into the academic program and continues throughout the curriculum. This clinical education provides opportunities to integrate knowledge, skills and behaviours required for practice and leads to the development of entry-level physiotherapists who act with authority, competence and leadership.

Increasingly, there is a move towards specialization or the development of advanced expertise in one particular area of the profession. This expertise may be gained through post-graduate education, continuing professional development, experience and research. Physiotherapists have developed advanced clinical expertise in areas such as cardiorespirology, geriatrics, neurosciences, orthopaedics, paediatrics, rheumatology, sports physiotherapy and women’s health.

Continuing Evolution

Physiotherapists keep abreast of information to ensure that the best evidence available guides and supports practice. The range and appropriateness of the techniques and approaches within the intervention categories may change over time due to emerging evidence, service demands, technology, and practice settings.

Physiotherapy is the art and science underlying movement and function, whereby physiotherapists use data and outcome measures to make judgements and apply technical skills to develop a client’s functional abilities. After entering practice, physiotherapists develop expanded skills and advanced competence through experience, additional education and training. The majority of physiotherapists practice within traditional medical and rehabilitation boundaries. Some experienced practitioners may build upon their foundation and competence and move into complementary areas or serve alternative client groups.

(Credit: Canadian Physiotherapy Association)