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Physiotherapy is a rehabilitative medicine. A treatment you seek post injury, an intervention you have post surgery, an option to alleviate chronic pain. A physiotherapy degree is housed within the faculty of Rehabilitation Sciences (within the Faculty of Medicine). Physiotherapy and rehabilitation go hand in hand… and that is not a misconception. Physiotherapists are recognized experts in the non surgical treatment of a wide range of musculoskeletal, cardiorespiratory, neurological, and orthopedic injuries, disease, and conditions. Physiotherapy can involve a variety of techniques, modalities, and education to help patients recover from, manage, and address their condition. Typically, patients seek out physiotherapy after an injury, surgery, or once pain has become chronic, to get better, regain functionality, or to optimally heal. Physiotherapy is a component of rehabilitation in our healthcare system.

I am a practicing physiotherapist and… I would like to propose we start to change our mindset, as a society, as seekers of physiotherapy, as practitioners, and within our Canadian healthcare system. Why can’t physiotherapy be preventative? Why can’t we start to use physiotherapy to prevent injury, chronic pain, and disease? Why can’t we prevent rehabilitation for as long as we can? Why can’t physiotherapy be used to preserve and enhance physical movement and function, rather than just react to such ailments?

Many of the patients I see put their bodies under incredible stress every day. Whether it is travelling the world for business, being a parent, sitting at a desk for hours every day, or the various high intensity work outs that seem to be the fad… these pressures and stresses will manifest themselves physically. This stress, and the effect it has on the body, will no doubt land people in physiotherapy once it starts to cause chronic pain, disability, or loss of physical function. But why can’t physiotherapy prevent this, rather than solely rehab these dysfunctions? Physiotherapy can teach proper body mechanics to the person who is chained to their desk all day for work, it can correct posture for Mom’s bending over to pick up their child, it can review proper technique for the weekend warrior who preforms high intensity weight lifting. The education and maintenance of physiotherapy provides people with the longevity of physical health and the prevention of injuries. I think it is time for physiotherapists, and society to allow the scope of physiotherapy practice to shift… let’s prevent the need for rehabilitation by putting in measures, exercises, and education before injury/pain/disease occurs. Let’s act preventatively, and shift our focus to being proactive rather than reactive. Physiotherapy can accomplish this.

Recently, InStyle published an article titled; “Why Celebrities are doing Physiotherapy for Wellness.” In this article, the author discusses why celebrities, including Jennifer Aniston, Cher, Selena Gomez, and Serena Williams include regular physiotherapy into their health regime. The desire for optimal health and functionality has driven physiotherapy to become more mainstream and not just a rehabilitative measure. In Hollywood, there seems to be a shift in how people are viewing the benefits of physical therapy, as opposed to just having to go to a session to heal an injury. The article states, “Recently, there has been a huge push in the longevity and prevention aspect of medicine. The public is turning more and more to physical therapy to help them understand and manage their pain. Who doesn’t want to feel better and do it with the guidance of a good physical therapist instead of popping addictive medications? Becoming in touch with the body can be a game changer in every aspect of one’s life.”

For once- Hollywood has it right!

I think the rest of the world, patients, advocates, medical professionals, and physiotherapists need to start to adopt this mentality. By acknowledging and accepting the rehabilitative and preventative benefits of physiotherapy, people can and will lead longer and more active lives without pain and injury.

 

By Charlotte Anderson
Registered Physiotherapist, PhD Student
Owner ALPHA Health Services