Physiotherapy supports healthy aging in many ways, “from helping Canadians recover from illness to helping improve the flexibility, strength, and balance older adults need to remain independent and mobile.”[i] In this article, we highlight some commonly asked questions about our profession and the many ways our profession can enable and support healthy aging.

What is the Role of a Physiotherapist?

The role of a physiotherapist is to assist patients and clients recover and rehabilitate from an injury to the musculoskeletal, neurological, or cardiorespiratory systems. Physiotherapists are also able to provide guidance, education, and instruction for community health as well. The role of a physiotherapist can vary slightly, depending on your situation and the responsibilities of the physiotherapist in that particular setting.

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What is a Physiotherapist vs Physical Therapist?

In Ontario, there are no differences between the term physiotherapist and physical therapist; and they can be used interchangeably. The terms Physiotherapist, Physicial Therapist, and Physiotherapy and short forms of these terms (e.g., “PT”) are deemed protected terms, according to the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario. It is illegal to use these titles without being registered with the college.

How Does Physiotherapy Work? 

A physiotherapist will perform a comprehensive initial assessment, according to your main concerns and injury or limitations you present with. After the assessment, your physiotherapist will develop meaningful goals with you and apply techniques such as manual therapy, exercise or movement prescription, education, modalities (e.g., such as acupuncture, shockwave therapy, electrical modalities) to get your body moving better functionally, and with reduced discomfort or pain. Your physiotherapist may have additional training in specific techniques.

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How Effective is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy and elements of physiotherapy are applicable to a large variety of conditions that affect the musculoskeletal, neurological, or cardiorespiratory system. The effectiveness of physiotherapy in the recovery and rehabilitation for people living with acute and systemic conditions has been well documented and studied. There is a large proportion of evidence to suggest that physiotherapy will assist in a person’s recovery and overall quality of life.

How Does Physiotherapy Support Healthy Aging?

Physiotherapy can reduce the incidence and likelihood of falls at older ages, particularly for people living with chronic conditions that make them more frail. Frailty can increase the risk of fragility fractures due to falling. At Propel Physiotherapy, we can tailor a falls prevention program that helps to improve balance and posture with the goal of reducing falls and fragility fractures.

Physiotherapy can also promote the health of the joints and the major muscle groups that surround the joints, especially of weight bearing parts of the body like the hips and knees. Active physiotherapy guidance also plays a major part in pre-habilitation and the rehabilitation of joints, due to natural aging processes. Across the one’s lifespan, physiotherapy can play a vital role in improving quality of life for people living with chronic or systemic disorders.

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How Can Physiotherapy Reduce Pain?

Physiotherapy can reduce pain in a number of ways. By improving mobility, muscular strength, and daily physical function, a physiotherapist can assist in reducing pain. In addition, depending on the type of pain and chronicity, techniques such as manual therapy, education, modalities, and physiotherapy guidance can greatly reduce the pain experience.

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Can I Do Physiotherapy at Home?

Yes! It is encouraged by many, if not most, physiotherapists to continue with a home movement or exercise program to assist in your physiotherapy recovery. Doing physiotherapy outside of the clinic is a great way to improve your progress. In addition, during the pandemic, physiotherapists have increased their abilities to deliver homecare, in addition to virtual physiotherapy care to assist with barriers getting into a clinic.

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Is Physiotherapy Right for Me?

Your physiotherapist will provide a comprehensive assessment and screening to determine if physiotherapy is right for you. In addition, they are trained in healing timelines to help you determine when you can return to activities. Your physiotherapist can also communicate with your primary health care provider to see if you are a candidate for physiotherapy. Most clients who come through our doors are ready to reap the benefits of physiotherapy treatment and guidance.

“The pandemic has made the benefits of physiotherapy even more obvious – not just for older adults. Physiotherapy can help Canadians maintain and improve their physical wellbeing and manage and prevent injury and illness in all of us as we age.”[ii]

Written by

Hoong Phang
Hoong PhangClinic Manager & Physiotherapist
Hoong holds a Bachelor Honours Health Sciences from the University of Western Ontario (2008). He has also completed a Master of Science in Health and Exercise Psychology (2010) from McMaster University, and Master of Physiotherapy (2012) from McMaster University. Hoong is currently published in the academic journals “Disability and Rehabilitation” and “Spinal Cord.”

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