What Is Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy is recognized as an essential healthcare profession that fosters evidence-informed, client-centered, collaborative care. It leads in the promotion, improvement, and maintenance of the mobility, function, health, and well-being.

Physiotherapy is an essential healthcare profession that encompasses rehabilitation, injury prevention and health promotion. . Physiotherapists are skilled in the assessment and management of a broad range of conditions that affect the musculoskeletal, circulatory, respiratory, and nervous systems.

A physiotherapist is a university graduate of an accredited physiotherapy program, who is qualified to:

  • establish a physical diagnosis and determine a client’s movement potential;
  • plan and implement physiotherapy treatment programs, using specialized knowledge and skills in exercise prescription and hands-on techniques for the prevention and treatment of movement dysfunction; and
  • undertake related professional activities such as research, teaching, administration and consultation.

Movement dysfunction is any change in the way your body moves that limits what you want to do and how you live your life. The dysfunction may be due to pain, accident or injury, lack of activity, disease, problems that develop with aging, or psychological or social stress. A movement problem may show up as an actual or potential impairment related to the neuromuscular (nerves), musculoskeletal (muscles and joints), respiratory (lungs), or cardiovascular (heart) systems.

Practice Specialization

Physiotherapy is an important part of the Canadian and Saskatchewan healthcare systems. As a part of this system, physiotherapists work closely with other health professionals, including physicians, occupational therapists, nurses, speech language pathologists, kinesiologists, social workers, respiratory therapists, and massage therapists.

A physician’s referral is not required in order to see a physiotherapist, but physicians will often refer patients to physiotherapy for certain conditions. It is common for physiotherapists to treat patients who have been referred to them by a physician as well as those who come into clinics without a referral. Following a thorough assessment, a physiotherapist will design an individual treatment program to address challenges and achieve goals.

At its best, physiotherapy is an active partnership between patient and therapist.

Physiotherapists have:

  • a detailed understanding of how the body works
  • knowledge of disease, injury, and the healing process
  • the ability to distinguish what is normal from abnormal in posture, balance, and movement.

Physiotherapists use:

  • individually prescribed exercise programs to correct the causes of movement dysfunctions
  • skilled “hands on” treatments such as soft tissue mobilization, acupressure, and manipulation
  • sophisticated diagnostic and treatment equipment, including lasers, ultrasound, magnetic fields, electrical currents, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, biofeedback, as well as cryotherapy to relieve pain and assist recovery
  • suitable assistive devices such as walking aids, splints, braces, orthotics, prosthetics and other therapeutic appliances to optimize mobility.

Conditions Treated

Physiotherapists treat a wide variety of conditions, including:

  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Arthritis
  • Autism
  • Brain Injury
  • Breast Cancer
  • Breathing Problems such as Asthma, COPD and Chronic Bronchitis
  • Cancer
  • Changes in Balance
  • Childhood Obesity
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Diabetes
  • Concussions and Dizziness
  • Low Back Pain and Posture Problems
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Pain (muscle, joint, and other chronic pain)
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Bladder Control and other Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Stroke

Physiotherapists often act as consultants to schools, governments, charities, businesses, and other organizations within the public and private sectors.

Physiotherapists may work in one or any combination of the following areas of practice:

• Burns

• Cardiac Rehab

• Geriatrics

• Home Care

• Neurology

• Orthopaedics

• Paediatrics

• Pre-Natal & Post-Natal Health

• Pre/Post Surgical Intervention

• Research

• Respirology

• Spinal Cord Injury

• Sports Physiotherapy

• Women’s Health