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Physiotherapy is the treatment and prevention of physical injuries and movement problems. Physiotherapists use education and preventative measures such as exercise to help patients gain and maintain the highest possible level of physical function.
No. These terms are interchangeable and refer to the same profession.
A Physiotherapist must complete a university program and meet strict standards before practicing. A Physiotherapist must be registered by the College of Physiotherapists of Manitoba (CPM) to practice in Manitoba.
Some physiotherapists have physical therapist assistants working for them. An assistant’s work is always directed and closely supervised by the physical therapist. Assistants can help with exercises and other treatment activities.
The physiotherapist might assign part of your therapy to the assistant, but only after you have talked about this and agreed to it.
Physiotherapists are qualified to:
- Assess your condition
- Educate you on how physiotherapy can help
- Recommend a specific physiotherapy program to help improve your condition – this may include an exercise program and other treatments and modalities to assist with improving your condition
- Reassess that the program is having the expected effects, adapt the program as you improve and ensure you have the education to maintain your condition after being discharged
Physiotherapists work in a range of settings such as private clinics, hospitals, schools, access centers and some also provide mobile/in home therapy. Regardless of the setting, physiotherapists work with a patient’s health care team to ensure safe and effective care. Physiotherapists work with patients of all ages from newborn babies to seniors.
To see a physiotherapist in a private practice, you can contact the physiotherapy clinic directly to arrange an appointment. To see a physiotherapist in the hospital, you may require a referral from your physician.
Telerehabilitation is the use of information or communication technologies to allow you and your physical therapist to connect via telephone, video or other remote monitoring technology to receive physical therapy services at a distance.
A physiotherapist can help with the treatment of many common problems as well as more complex medical issues such as:
- Injuries such as a sprain or strain which require immediate care to manage swelling, tenderness and pain
- Rehabilitation after you break a bone or have an injury impacting your bones and/or muscles
- “Pre” habilitation to get you ready for an orthopedic surgery (e.g., hip/knee replacement) and rehabilitation after surgery
- Neurological problems such as a stroke, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, head injury, etc.
- Cardiorespiratory illnesses such as COPD, cystic fibrosis, long COVID, heart attack, etc.
- Specific problems such a jaw problem (TMJ), vestibular issues (vertigo), pelvic health issues, return to work rehabilitation, etc.
- Injury prevention and disease prevention and management (such as with diabetes, osteoarthritis, etc.)
All physiotherapists who practice in Manitoba must be registered with the College of Physiotherapists of Manitoba (CPM). The practice of physiotherapy is governed by The Physiotherapists Act, which sets standards of practice. Physiotherapists must follow these standards of practice and the associated legislation to maintain a license to practice. Physiotherapists must also follow the Code of Ethics which can be reviewed on our website.
Successful physiotherapy is based on good communication between you and your physiotherapist. If you are unsatisfied with your treatment, talk to your physiotherapist. If you remain unsatisfied after discussing your concerns, you can speak with the clinic owner, department manager or supervisor to assist with resolving this issue. You may also choose to access services elsewhere or request that an alternate therapist take over your care. Finally, if you are concerned about quality of care or feel the issue needs to be elevated, you may direct a complaint to the Registrar at the College of Physiotherapists of Manitoba. Please visit the Complaints section of our website for more information.
About Physiotherapy Assessment
Your physiotherapist will:
- Discuss the cost of assessment and treatment with you
- Ask for your consent to gather your health information and complete the examination
- Ask you questions about your health and health history
- Conduct a physical exam to assess your injury or condition (the exam can sometimes temporarily increase your pain)
- Review the exam findings and discuss the recommended treatment goals and program
- Confirm if you agree or disagree with the proposed program
Your physiotherapist will ask questions such as the following to better understand your condition:
- What is the nature of your pain such as its location and intensity – this may relate to current pain or pain experienced in the past related to this issue.
- What is your personal and family health history
- What, if any, medications are you taking
- Have you had any physiotherapy treatments recently or in the past
- What are the physical requirements of your job or home life
- Do you participate in any activities that may affect your condition or treatment
Your physiotherapist may ask further question
Your physiotherapist may touch the affected area to check for tenderness, swelling or heat. They may test to see if movement or strength has been affected and to assess pain levels. You may be required to change your clothing in order to reveal the problem area. Finally, they may need to perform special tests to confirm a diagnosis of the physiotherapy problem. Your physiotherapist should explain these procedures throughout the assessment and ask how you are tolerating the assessment. After the exam, your physiotherapist will communicate what they have concluded the issue is and how physiotherapy treatment can help. You should ask questions if the information is unclear or if you would like clarification. If you agree with the proposed treatment, your physiotherapist will set up a program for you.
Your physiotherapy program may include:
- Information and education
- Physical exercise including aerobic exercise for the heart and lungs and to increase exercise tolerance
- Loosening and stretching of the muscles and joints
- Strengthening of the muscles
- Gait/balance retraining
- The use of modalities or specific treatments based on your physiotherapy issue and the training of the physiotherapist (such as acupuncture, ultrasound, TENs machine, mobilizations or manipulations of a joint, etc.)
- Education and treatment for conditions such as:
- Lung problems such as asthma
- Pelvic issues, such as bladder and bowel problems related to childbirth
- Loss of mobility because of trauma to the brain or spine, or due to diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis
- Fatigue, pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of muscle strength, for example during cancer treatment, or palliative care
- What is my injury or condition?
- What is the planned treatment and how will this improve my condition?
- How soon can I expect to see results and what is the plan is if I am not progressing as planned?
- What I am expected to follow up with at home (including any suggested exercises)?
If you are unclear regarding any of this information, be sure to ask your physiotherapist to clarify for you.
Yes. At any point during your assessment or during later appointments, you may refuse to continue with the exam or treatment. Tell your physiotherapist if you do not understand any part of the assessment or treatments being performed or if you feel pain or discomfort.