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Purpose and Mission
Physiotherapists (also known as physical therapists) are allied health professionals who assess and treat people with physical difficulties relating to injuries, disease, aging or disability. They treat people of all ages suffering a wide range of illnesses from strokes to injuries resulting from sports. The illnesses are usually as a result of issues that affect the musculoskeletal, circulatory, respiratory and nervous systems.
These healthcare professionals are trained to use non-surgical procedures to reduce pain, improve movement and help to restore normal functionality. They assist their patients in improving their quality of life by assisting them with physical ailments and by promoting health, wellbeing and a stable rehabilitation process.
They use a variety of techniques, such as massage, breathing and relaxation techniques and hydrotherapy to strengthen and stretch muscles, which in turn helps to improve mobility. They train patients who’ve lost their mobility to walk again and teach them to use walking frames, splints, wheelchairs and crutches as required. Physiotherapists use a range of equipment such as ice packs, heat packs, exercise equipment, electrotherapy and ultrasound to reduce swelling, ease pain and improve movement.
Many physiotherapists work at hospitals and clinics, so they typically report to a department head or chief of service. Others work at doctor’s offices, rehab centers, nursing homes, or even travel to patient residences. These physiotherapists often report to a health services manager or similar mid-level administrator.
Some physiotherapists have supervisory responsibilities, but many are focused more on patient care. Senior physical therapists may be responsible for training of new colleagues or staff.
Physiotherapy can be studied at vocational education provider TAFE, or at most universities or private colleges in Australia. You can earn Diploma level qualifications such as the Diploma of Practice Management. The courses include a mixture of clinical and practical theory along with clinical placements.
If you study at the university level, you can obtain a Bachelor of Physiotherapy, Bachelor of Applied Science (physiotherapy) or a Bachelor of Physiotherapy/Bachelor of Exercise Science.
All physiotherapists must be registered with the Physiotherapy Board of Australia to practise in Australia. They can apply for registration via the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). These regulations apply to those that are trained in Australia as well as overseas.
Responsibilities of a Physiotherapist
Physiotherapists can choose to specialise in women’s health, aged care, sports injuries, paediatrics, neurology, occupational health and safety, gerontology and musculoskeletal issues.
These highly-trained professionals desire to improve their patients’ quality of life. They enjoy working with their hands and using a variety of equipment to help ease pain and restore regular function of muscles and the nervous system. It’s important to have strong communication skills and be good at solving problems, as they listen to their patients’ issues, ask probing questions to uncover further details and educate their patients on preventative methods to minimise the chance of causing another injury.
By the same token, physical therapists must be physically fit as they can be on their feet and physically active for long periods of time. Fortunately, they can usually maintain a healthy work-life balance as they typically work regular hours during the week.