Physiotherapists see patients for a number of reasons, usually to provide treatment for muscular conditions affecting movement or causing pain and discomfort. How do you choose a physiotherapist? Is there one better suited to treat you than another? If you are looking for a physiotherapist, we suggest that you consider the following five things before choosing a physio to treat your condition.
Your physiotherapist is required to complete a degree and have full registration to practice with the Physiotherapy Board of Australia. This ensures that they meet the standards which have been set by the Board to promote best health practice. This includes holding necessary indemnity insurance, English language standards, codes of conduct, criminal history checks and continuing professional development standards. Physiotherapy practices can also receive further accreditation, which provides for even more professional accountability and excellence in clinical care.
Area of Specialization
Physiotherapists complete years of study and training to obtain their qualifications. They can further their expertise in many areas of specialisation. Some of the areas that physiotherapists can specialise in include sports injury, mental health, care of the aged, stroke rehabilitation, ergonomics and office set up, spine and head injuries, respiratory problems, pregnancy and recovery after surgery and rehabilitation. If your injury is specific, you may need to see a physiotherapist who specialises in that area. If you have a sporting injury, it might be advantageous to go to a physiotherapist who specialises in sporting injuries or a sports clinic that offers physiotherapy as well as complementary treatments. A physiotherapist does not have to specialise however; they can have a general practice that treats a range of conditions.
Methods of Treatment
You may have a preference for a particular type of treatment to ease your pain. Traditionally, physiotherapists train in exercise and movement, massage, manipulation and electrotherapy. Increasingly, they are also trained in and able to offer complementary or alternative treatments to replace traditional pain relief. These can include acupuncture, reflexology, reiki, hydrotherapy, different types of massage and manual therapy such as shiatsu, Bowen technique treatments, cranio-sacral therapy and neuro-structural integration. If you have a preference for a type of treatment, you should ask the physiotherapist it is available. If you don’t like a type of treatment, you should ask the physio if they have an alternative. For instance, hydrotherapy is well known to assist arthritis sufferers with pain relief. If you suffer from arthritis, you may want to ask your physio if they offer this type of treatment. It is not unusual to go to a health centre, pain and injury clinic or sports injury clinic and be offered a range of different practitioners to treat your injury. In the same clinic you may have the option of being treated by an osteopath, a physiotherapist, a masseuse, Chinese herbalist, life coach or participate in a Pilates class. It might suit you to see more than one health practitioner at the same premises.
Where is the Physiotherapist located? Is it easy for me to get to?
Is the physiotherapist close to home or work? If you are driving, is there parking available? If you are catching public transport, are they situated close to a bus or train station? Do you need wheelchair access?
Unfortunately, it is usually the case that we want to see a physio because we are in pain and need quick relief. For this reason, a therapist who is able to see us as soon as possible is preferable to one that is booked out for weeks in advance. It is also good to know that if you do need to see them because of relapse or if the pain becomes too strong before your next scheduled appointment, they can squeeze you in if needed.
- Check the physiotherapist’s qualifications.
- Choose one suited to your area of need.
- Choose a treatment you are comfortable with.
- Choose one ideally located for you.
- Check availability of appointments.
Contact a number of physiotherapists in your area to find one that is best suited to provide the treatment that is best for you.