What is Occupational Physiotherapy?

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  • Written By: Angela Crout-Mitchell
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2019
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Occupational physiotherapy is the professional practice of aiding workers or employees in preventing injury on the job as well as recovering from accidents and injuries when they occur. These professionals evaluate employee's abilities concerning the physical work load of each individual, offer effective solutions for protecting the health of the employee, and suggest methods for more efficiently completing the necessary functions in the work place. Specific services may include designing ways to help people work well within their specific limitations as well as physical therapy when needed to enhance the person' fitness and reduce long term disability. Occupational therapists may work in physiotherapy clinics, sports therapy offices, or on company site in some cases.

One important element of occupational physiotherapy is evaluating an employee's function, both physical and mental. Evaluations can be done in the therapist's office environment or the therapist may visit the work site to observe the employee perform his or her normal duties. The occupational physiotherapist will be watching for physical limitations that may point to injury or the potential of long term problems, as well as observe the social interaction between the employee and other workers. It is also not uncommon for the therapist to request an interview with the employee to better understand the situation from his or her point of view.


Another aspect of occupational physiotherapy is to find solutions to the challenges facing the injured employee, which aims to encourage improved performance or reentry into the work force after long term injury. The therapies suggested may include physical therapy designed to assist the client in healing and rebuilding lost function. It is common for other health professionals to be called upon for this aspect of the treatment. An occupational therapist is also trained to help the employee use their skills and abilities to the maximum benefit of the individual and the company. The employee will also receive information and training specifically to teach the necessary skills to reduce the likelihood of further injury.

There are several types of situations that may call for the services of a professional trained in occupational physiotherapy. Companies may hire these therapists to come and observe the staff as a whole, looking for ways to improve productivity and to find potential hazards to the health of their employees. In other cases, the therapist may be sought out to work with only one employee or with a small group of employees who may be struggling for a variety of reasons. Individuals also seek out occupational therapists in special circumstances including lay offs, injury that prohibits the person from returning to their specific previous occupation, and for advice on excelling in their chosen field.



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