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What is a physiotherapist?

In a recent study, which examined the market profile of physiotherapists in Canada, the term mobility specialist was used to describe the role of a physiotherapist within a complex Canadian health care system. It was an interesting term to use, and one that has yet to be expanded on and further defined within our health system. However, it did get me thinking as to how a physiotherapist is trained, the effect a physiotherapist can have on mobility, how to bridge the gap in knowledge, and educate Canadians as to what a “mobility specialist” really is. If “physiotherapist” and “mobility specialist” are synonymous… we better show a connection!

The role of a physiotherapist involves working in health, mobility, and rehabilitation. Physiotherapists are trained to understand soft tissue dysfunction, to rehabilitate patients with physical or neurological injury/disease, and to keep the Canadian population moving. However, the rehabilitation and mobility market in Canada is a complex system, with patients interacting with regulated and unregulated health professionals to be physically active or mobile in order to complete activities of daily living, participate in exercise or sport, improve quality of life, or achieve functional independence. The concept of rehabilitation and mobility is vast because of the many suppliers of goods and services that sit in multiple market spaces, straddling the line of publicly funded health providers, private sector business, regulated and unregulated health professionals, and the many areas of practice of those offering physical and virtual goods and services. So, let’s be clear on what a physiotherapist does, and how seeing a physiotherapist as a mobility specialist can drastically change your health, function, and quality of life.

To become a physiotherapist, you must obtain a MSc degree in Physical Therapy. To become registered and be in good standing with the College of Physiotherapists, practitioners must obtain a license to practice. A physiotherapist is able to and is trained to assess, manage, diagnoses, and treat injury/disease/chronic pain/anatomical abnormality/illness that effects a patients mobility. Mobility includes, but is not limited to- walking, running, driving, eating, movement, dancing, cooking, personal hygiene and parenting. Lack of mobility or pain with mobility affects ones activities of daily living, quality of life, and independence. A physiotherapist uses their education in anatomy, physiology, exercise training principles, neurological anatomy, and psychology to assess, diagnosis, treat and manage any and all conditions which may effect ones mobility. A physiotherapist can help patients get back to what they need, want, and love to do, by addressing the body symptoms, muscle impairments, joint issues, and optimizing functional movements.

A physiotherapist can get you back on your feet!

And perhaps we have to start thinking of physiotherapy = mobility= functionality… and therefore take the term mobility specialist one step further to…  specialists in returning to function.

-Charlotte Anderson
Registered Physiotherapist