A physiotherapist works with a variety of patients who are suffering from musculoskeletal problems, including pain in the bones, ligaments, muscles and tendons. These problems can stem from injuries, diseases or simply from the aging process. More often than not, a physiotherapist will concentrate on a specific area of expertise, such as sports-related issues or one particular area of the body, such as the chest. A person who has earned a physiotherapy degree can find work in private practice, hospitals, schools, with the government, or in a sports clinic.
In the process of obtaining a physiotherapy degree, a student will learn how to use a variety of methods to help patients. These include the proper use of cold and heat treatments, manipulation and massage through the use of the hands, mechanical machines and electrical means. The main goals are to reduce pain and restore an optimum level of function for the patient, but when a return to full function is unobtainable a physiotherapist helps the patient to adapt through rehabilitation.
A person who has earned a physiotherapy degree will have learned how to gauge levels of sensation and muscle strength, analyze movement, evaluate pain levels and perform tests that note the performance of muscles and nerves. A physiotherapist who specializes in the chest area will also be able to determine the capacity of a patient's lungs. An additional aspect of the physiotherapist’s job is advising their patients on ways to handle their disability or illness.
In earning a physiotherapy degree, a person will learn to use some of the machines used frequently on the job, including an ultrasound machine and a TENS unit. The acronym stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, and the battery-powered unit delivers electrical pulses to a specifically chosen point on the body through electrodes to break up nerve signals of pain. Whichever treatment a physiotherapist recommends for a patient, he or she must first perform an initial evaluation that will direct the patient’s treatment plan. Depending on the patient’s specific problem, treatment can include massage, traction, manipulation of soft tissues, stretching exercises, and educating the patient on proper movement.
A higher education that results in a physiotherapy degree, such as a master’s or doctorate degree, calls for specific knowledge of the human body and how it works, and numerous science courses. A physiotherapy practitioner must thoroughly understand anatomy. It helps to be in good shape because there is a lot of manual effort required to perform the job. A physiotherapist also should have a desire to help people who are in pain. The aptitude to make a connection with a wide range of patient types is also valuable because patients may be mentally challenged, physically disabled, aged, or infirm.