What is physiotherapy?
Sometimes also referred to as ‘physical therapy’, physiotherapy entails targeted training of the body and the use of non-invasive techniques to improve or rehabilitate movement and physical ability. Techniques may include ultrasound, massages or heat packs. Before starting any treatment, the physiotherapist will carry out a detailed, specialist examination and tailor the treatment to the patient’s individual needs. This approach seeks to:
- Understand how the body is working, raise awareness of available resources and get to the root of certain issues (e.g. poor posture, incorrect lifting or carrying, poor gym form)
- Trigger the body’s own natural healing response(e.g. build muscle, encourage motor learning, boost metabolism)
- Promote patients’ ability to independently managetheir own bodies
Physiotherapists are experts in treating impeded physical ability and pain. This specialty is an independent discipline within conventional medicine and falls into primary care. Day-to-day work in the physiotherapy department focuses on supporting patients on their journey to improved health or helping them to maintain their health – all with the goal of increasing patient quality of life. To achieve this, physiotherapists work on improving physical abilities – such as standing up, walking, climbing stairs and running – as well as increasing mobility in stiff joints and easing pain.
Types of conditions
In essence, any problem involving the musculoskeletal system can be improved using physiotherapy. Here are a few examples:
- Injury and rehabilitation
Physiotherapy can be targeted to support the healing of tendons, ligaments, bones and muscles following an accident, surgery or sports injury. With the right physiotherapy, most patients can expect to regain normal functionality of the musculoskeletal system.
- Back and neck pain
Many people struggle with tension in the region around the back and neck, often leading to tension headaches. These can be targeted with physiotherapy to achieve longer term relief. Physiotherapy can also successfully relieve the acute pain of lumbago and slipped discs. A consultation on workstation ergonomics can also help in many cases.
- Neurological disorders
Physiotherapy plays an important role in the rehabilitation of, among others, hemiplegia, Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis. The rehabilitation program is personalized according to each patient's disorders and aims to improve functional abilities, mobility, strength, balance and endurance in daily life activities.
- Age-related complaints
Physiotherapists are specialists in providing effective treatment for arthritis, rheumatic conditions, dizziness, tinnitus and unsteady gait. Very often, this treatment significantly improves mobility and helps to avoid falls.
- Burnout and stress
For many people, day-to-day life is full of complex sources of stress which can often manifest physically as tension, pain and other psychosomatic complaints. In these cases, the mental health aspect must be addressed but physiotherapy can be very useful alongside that. The use of massages, relaxation training and targeted stress-relief exercises has been proven effective in the scientific literature.
- Global reconditioning
Global reconditioning is a method to regain acceptable physical condition by physically retraining a person. The goal is for the patient to regain the benefit of regular physical activity and to improve his tolerance to the stress of daily life, with the aim of improving his quality of life.
Physiotherapy offers a wide range of services, making use of different adapted techniques and methods such as:
- Joint mobilisation
- Strengthening of a muscle or muscle group
- Various pain relief methods including electrotherapy
- PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation)
- The Bobath approach
- Posture correction
- Stability exercises
- Balance and instability rehabilitation therapy
- Gait rehabilitation