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Welcome! Is physiotherapy for you?

Let's set the record straight, you do not have to be a sportsman or athlete to receive physiotherapy. In the 10 years that I have practiced as a Physiotherapist, I have come across countless people who are unsure about when it is appropriate to visit a physio. I will therefore dedicate my first-ever blog post to shedding some light on this popular uncertainty. If you know me, you will know that I am passionate about what physiotherapists do, and I feel it is imperative that we educate the public about what we have to offer... and no, it is not just massage. Let us take a look at why medical aids recognise physiotherapy and why you will find us in hospitals.

A quick introduction

More about my journey of becoming a physiotherapist can be found on the "About us" page. Let me share some personal facts with you: I was born in Nelspruit, raised in Pretoria, and now consider myself a "proper Capetonian" (seeing as though I hit that 10-year mark about 4 years ago). My husband and I got married in our late twenties and he is absolutely the best! Without his and my family's support, I would not have been able to stand on my own. I am a dog lover (we have two rescue greyhounds), an absolute carnivore (350g and up steak please) and I am a total homebody. I love people, their stories, figuring out the root cause of their physical problems, and I enjoy solving their "puzzles". However, when I recharge, I recharge on my own. I am what they call a "social introvert". Nice to meet you!

How can you benefit from physio?

Physiotherapists have a medical background. We studied a BSc degree on the medical campus for four years and took medical subjects such as anatomy, physiology, and pathology. We simply cannot engage with patients, if we do not have an in-depth understanding of the body, how it works, its dysfunction, and how diseases or pathologies influence bodily functions. Simply put, we evaluate you in order to identify the cause of the dysfunction. Then, we formulate a suitable treatment plan to address these impairments.

We see patients in the ICU, hospital wards, clinics, private practices, rehab centers, and on the sports field. You will find physios in almost all the spheres of medicine, as we work in various fields. We also form part of the multidisciplinary medical team.

If you have a sports injury, we assess to determine if the cause is muscular, structural, ligamentous, neural, etc., and then we formulate our treatment plan. It could entail strapping, soft tissue release, or only exercises. The treatment will always vary, depending on the underlying problem. If you are too tight, we may do some soft tissue release (if indicated) and issue mobility drills and/ or stretches. If you are too weak, you may need resistance

training. If you have instability, you may require stabilisation exercises. And so it goes on...

If you had a stroke, we do a full neurological exam and identify the problem, then we treat it according to that. Let's say the stroke caused a loss of balance and coordination, then we will rehabilitate that (most likely in a gym-like environment). If you are in the ICU on a ventilator, we will assess the lungs and determine if you need chest physio to keep your lungs clear or assess when it is systemically safe to get you up and walking.

In another post, I will elaborate on the various fields of physiotherapy. For now, I want to you know that if you have pain, a niggle, pull, or any physical discomfort, it is our job to clinically evaluate you and find the cause of the problem. If we evaluate you and find that you require treatment outside of our scope of practice, we will refer you to the appropriate medical colleague or specialist. In South Africa, we have first-line practitioner status. This means that you do not need a doctor's referral to see a physio. If you are unsure, go for an assessment. We should never treat without conducting an evaluation anyway.

The next time you see a physiotherapist and they are asking you many questions, keep in mind that we are obtaining a full medical history for your file, and the next time you have to perform silly tests, know that it is to solve your puzzle. I always say physiotherapy should be tailor-made for every individual, but then you must allow space for the critical thinking part that goes on before the treatment. Do not expect to just go lie down for a massage. I am of the opinion that this is the only way we will get you sorted out as quickly as possible.

Chat soon!


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