The Constantly Evolving Role of the Physiotherapist

The movement towards understanding the importance of overall health to the individual continues to grow, and with it, the role of the physiotherapist. Primarily, a physiotherapist identifies and maximises a patient's movement potential through a range of different techniques. Nowadays, this seems a rather simplistic definition of what has evolved to be a complex role that crosses over into other areas of medical and psychological significance.

The modern physiotherapist will become involved in a number of different treatment options which are as individual as the patient. They perform their primary functions of health promotion, preventive healthcare, treatment and rehabilitation. However these days, they may also be called upon to assist with stress relief, alleviating pain and mental preparation for physical activity.

Health Promotion a Major Part of the Role

This broadening of the role gives a physiotherapist the opportunity to work with sports psychologists, experts in pain management, dietitians, nutritionists and massage therapists. The emphasis on preventive healthcare and health promotion combines their knowledge of muscle building techniques, bodywork and muscle manipulation with establishing daily exercise plans and arranging detailed nutrition guides for patients who need some direction in how to care for their own health.

To become a physiotherapist requires successful completion of a course of study at university level. Some prerequisite study or knowledge in one or more of English, biological science, physics, chemistry and health and physical education are also required. An alternative pathway is to attain a relevant bachelor degree followed by a post-graduate qualification in physiotherapy.

Different universities have different pre-requisites and flexible entry requirements, so the first step is to contact the applicable university for these details. If funding is a concern, tertiary institutes offering this degree often have scholarships and financial assistance available. Graduates should also be aware that a physiotherapist needs to be registered with the Physiotherapy Board of Australia to practice in Queensland.

Opportunities for Specialisation Abound

Physiotherapists can also specialise in areas of particular interest to them. There are many options, but some of the best known are women's health, aged care, sports medicine, occupational health and safety, paediatrics, spinal injuries, injury prevention and pain management. Work opportunities exist in private clinics, aged care facilities and hospitals as well as individual private practice.

Modern clinics and hospitals have a wide range of facilities and equipment available for the physiotherapist to utilise for the rehabilitation of their patients. Typical equipment would include physiotherapy gyms, hydrotherapy and cryotherapy equipment, electrotherapy and heat therapy equipment. In these environments, physiotherapists have the opportunity to work in multi-disciplinary teams sharing skills and knowledge with other professionals.

The career options available to physiotherapists are continually expanding as the general public become aware of the benefits of their skills and expertise. Large companies in the resource sector, for example, are hiring physiotherapists to keep their workforce in peak physical and mental condition to enable them to perform in difficult environments. The possibilities are, as they say, endless.


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