Physiotherapy and rehabilitation seem to go hand in hand since physiotherapy has such a wide array of modalities for healing, and oftentimes rehabilitation from injury may require a less than traditional approach. For example, one person’s healing from back surgery may necessitate a completely different sort of treatment plan than another’s.
‘Rehabilitation’ in terms of physical medicine refers to the enhancement and restoration of functional ability and quality of life after injury or any other means of limitation or disability. While rehabilitation may be needed after surgery, stroke, or any number of serious life events, commonly rehabilitation is required after random injuries such as those sustained in athletic events or during everyday activity. For example, healing over an eight week period from a sprained wrist sustained from a fall on the ice may be considered rehabilitation.
How does a physiotherapist work?
If you seek a physiotherapist for help with your rehabilitation, they will ask you initially for a detailed history of your health, as well as details concerning your current areas of concern. They will then assess your condition and then properly diagnose you to determine an effective plan of treatment. The physiotherapist will work with you to help you understand the nature of your condition and how rehabilitation will work for you, and they will develop a plan of treatment customized to your own personal needs. You will be treated in the clinic, and will be taught the proper methods for taking care of yourself outside of the clinic as well, so that you can heal faster and more effectively and ultimately take ownership of your own healing.
Rehabilitation with a physiotherapist often involves some sort of testing (such as range of motion testing) and mobilization techniques, though more effective methods involve manual manipulation by the practitioner as opposed to methods that are machine-driven and offer little hands-on technique. This type of treatment tends to result in faster and more lasting healing, and you are better served to find a physiotherapist who practices in this way as you will want to minimize your pain and your healing time during your rehabilitation. Aside from hands-on treatment you may also be given exercises to perform outside of treatment as a means of gaining the independence that you seek.
A good example of how hands-on treatment with physiotherapy is most effective is with shoulder pain, a growing concern among people over 50 years of age (often called ‘frozen shoulder’). Shoulder pain can be especially concerning because it can make sleeping difficult, and because your range of motion can become quite limited. Hands-on physiotherapy seeks to re-establish flexibility in your shoulder much more directly than simple ultrasound can achieve, and has a more dramatic effect along with exercises that are usually employed alongside the technique.