What does a Physiotherapist do?
Physiotherapists work in a lot of different environments and what they do is quite varied. However, a Physiotherapist basically assesses and diagnoses movement-related problems and injuries and works with patients to reduce their pain and/or improve the way their body moves.
In a private physiotherapy clinic, this often relates to an injury or pain that a person has developed, either through an accident of some kind or a repetitive, overuse problem.
Physiotherapists are part of the allied health network that works closely with Doctors to diagnose and treat problems with the body’s systems. They work as a team with your doctors, other allied health practitioners, personal trainers etc., communicating regularly to ensure that all parts of the healthcare team are on the same page.
Physiotherapists use education and advice, manual therapies like massage, dry needling and joint mobilisation, specialised treatment equipment, and exercise prescription and training to decrease their patient’s pain and improve their ability to move normally and achieve their goals.
What is the role of the Physiotherapist?
The role of a Physiotherapist is many and varied, depending on the environment of work. This could be on the ward in a hospital, in outpatient hospital departments, private clinics, with sports clubs and professional teams, gyms, occupational environments, neurological rehabilitation facilities and more. Generally, the Physiotherapist’s role is to assess any pain or dysfunction of the body or movement and to work with patients to improve their mobility, decrease their pain, or increase their physical performance.
What qualifications do I need to be a Physiotherapist?
All Physiotherapists in Australia are degree-qualified, which means they’ve studied for a minimum of 4 years after high school. There are two ways of achieving the required university degree, either a 4-year Bachelor of Physiotherapy, or a 2-year Masters or Doctorate degree. This post-graduate (Masters or Doctorate) qualification requires an appropriate Bachelor’s degree such as Exercise and Sports Science be completed first. The post-graduate entry into the Physiotherapy profession is becoming more common, and in the USA, all Physiotherapists (also known as Physical Therapists) require a Doctorate degree which takes 7 years to achieve. After graduating from university, many Physiotherapists then complete at least one year in a practical learning environment (such as a large hospital) to broaden their knowledge and experience.
How do I become a Physiotherapist?
To become a Physio, you will require a Physiotherapy degree from a certified university. This can be from an overseas university, however, in this case you’ll be required to pass a difficult practical and theoretical exam before you can register as a Physiotherapist in Australia.
Once you have received your degree, you need to register with AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) who are responsible for ensuring health practitioners are appropriately qualified and of good character to practice their profession in Australia. Part of this annual registration is to maintain a high level of ongoing professional education, and AHPRA ensure that this Continuing Professional Development is appropriately satisfied.
Am I eligible for physiotherapy?
Physiotherapy is a mainstream part of the health system in Australia, working closely with Doctors and other allied health providers as part of the healthcare team but, you do not require a referral from a Doctor to see a Physiotherapist.
Everyone in Australia is eligible for Physiotherapy and Physiotherapists are the profession that is most-referred to by General Practitioners. Doctors and Physios work together very closely and complement each other’s skills to ensure you get the best treatment for pain and movement-related problems.
Costs of physiotherapy?
Generally, there are 3 ways to pay for a Physiotherapy session in Australia:
- Private payment (out of pocket);
- Private health insurance rebate;
The Medicare system has a component known as Team Care Arrangements (TCA) which are led by your GP. This system allows for up to 5 Medicare-supported sessions with a Physiotherapist per year if you have a chronic condition. Whether you are seeing a Physiotherapist and paying privately, receiving a rebate through your private health insurance, or receiving support through a TCA from your GP, there will usually be a co-payment to see a Physiotherapist in Australia.
How much does a Physiotherapist make?
Physiotherapists in different areas of the profession receive very different levels of pay. A starting salary for a junior Physio in a private clinic in Australia will generally be somewhere around $65,000p.a. Once a Physio has established themselves as an expert in their area of practice, they can earn up to, and sometimes beyond, $160,000p.a.
Types of Physiotherapy
There are several different types of Physiotherapy, basically broken into 4 main parts:
- Musculoskeletal / Sports – this type of Physiotherapy is usually provided in a private clinic or sports club/gym, and for the most part deals with the assessment and management of injuries and pain that are limiting normal movement or stopping a patient from achieving their movement goals. This is what most people naturally think of as traditional Physiotherapy. The patient’s pain or movement problem usually comes from an exercise-related injury, an overuse injury, a workplace injury, or age-related changes in the way the body is moving and working;
- Men’s and Women’s Health – this type of Physiotherapy is focused on providing treatment for problems such as incontinence and pain in and around the pelvis and genitals. For men, although not exclusively, it often relates to the prevention and treatment of problems associated with prostate cancer and surgery. For women, it also includes exercise and management of pain and issues which relate to pregnancy and following childbirth;
- Neurological – following disease, damage, or injury to the brain and nerves, many people will have ongoing movement problems and sometimes pain. This might be following a stroke, spinal cord injury, brain injury etc. This type of Physiotherapist has special knowledge of how to assess and help people in these circumstances;
- Cardiorespiratory – this type of physiotherapy is directed at assessing and managing problems with the heart and lungs. This may include aerobic exercise training, strengthening exercises, breathing exercises, manual therapy to improve lung function, listening to your lungs etc.
Common reasons people seek Physiotherapy help
People usually seek the help of a Physiotherapist for 5 reasons:
- to find out what is causing their pain or movement problem;
- to reduce their pain;
- to improve their movement or function;
- to prevent injuries and improve performance;
- to have an expert help them develop an appropriate and safe exercise programme.
About a typical Physiotherapy session
In a private physiotherapy clinic, a treatment session will usually involve 4 elements.
- Firstly, your Physiotherapist will sit down and have a chat with you. This will give them most, or all, of the information they need to plan what needs to be done to help you. They will ask you some questions about the history of your pain or problem, your goals and expectations, your general health and any other factors that might be relevant to your injury or movement problem.
- Secondly, your Physiotherapist will run you through some tests, often using specialised equipment, to measure how you move, your strengths, weaknesses, tight areas and any other elements that might be contributing to your problem.
- Thirdly, your Physio will use his or her manual skills which might include massage techniques, dry needling/acupuncture, taping, joint mobilisations, stretches and various pieces of equipment to improve the way your body is moving and to decrease your pain.
- Finally, your Physiotherapist will work with you to build a personalised exercise programme that you can complete at home, the gym, outside, at work etc. to build the strength, control, mobility, and movement improvement that will help you to make a full recovery.
At Sydney Physiotherapy Solutions we pride ourselves on having highly qualified and experienced physiotherapists who use evidence-based practices to provide you with the best possible result. We have modern, convenient clinics and state of the art technology. If you have a question or a problem please consult one of the physiotherapists at Sydney Physio Solutions on 02 9252 5770.