March 18 2019

It may surprise some of you but we often get asked what physiotherapy is? Seems an odd question when you are in the middle of delivering some high-quality physio to get asked that one!

It isn’t such a strange question though as physiotherapy is a far-reaching profession that has a lot of different applications across a huge variety of fields.

Whilst some of you may think that the word Physiotherapy literally means “pain maker” it loosely converts to “physical therapy” in both it’s names and its application. Some of the earliest documentation that can be found on the origins of physiotherapy tracks back to Sweden in 1813. Then the term for a physical therapist was a sjukgymnast. Technically this translated to “gymnastics for those who are ill” … If you think your exercises are tough, imagine the home exercise programs in 1813!!

However, physiotherapy has changed a lot since then and has continually been a profession that aims to deliver evidence-based treatments to people in many environments to improve health outcomes.

Perhaps the best way to summarise what physiotherapy is today is through this video created by our professional association, the Australia Physiotherapy Association (APA)

All physiotherapists practicing in Australia have been through a minimum of an undergraduate university degree that is the equivalent of 4 years full time. This qualification allows newly trained physios to work in all areas of the profession as a new graduate. From there all physiotherapists are required to undertake a minimum of 20 hours of professional development per year to maintain their registration under the Australian Health and Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Apologies if you fell asleep there! If you are interested in finding more about AHPRA then click here to head to the website.

As mentioned before, physiotherapists work across a multitude of sectors. One of the huge benefits of physios is that we are first contact practitioners meaning that you do not need a referral to see a physiotherapist in Australia. The list below is a snapshot from the APA of the areas that physiotherapists can be found dishing out their expertise,

  • Acupuncture and dry needling
  • Aquatic
  • Cancer, palliative care and lymphoedema
  • Cardiorespiratory
  • Disability
  • Emergency department
  • Gerontology
  • Mental health
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Neurological
  • Occupational health
  • Orthopaedic
  • Paediatric
  • Pain
  • Physiotherapy for animals, often working with vets
  • Sports
  • Women’s, men’s and pelvic health

Remember also that this is not an exhaustive list. The only thing we weren’t sure of is the animal physiotherapy section. We still can’t figure out how they get the animals to do their exercises …

Moving on … One of the most important things we wanted to point out is that physiotherapists don’t stop learning once they finish their undergraduate qualification. Across a number of the above listed areas of physio there are possibilities for physios to undertake formal education to increase their standing within the profession.

The graphic below describes the career path for physiotherapists in Australia,

Much like other professions within the health industry like doctors and surgeons, physios can undertake this formal education to increase their knowledge and provide more evidence based and effective interventions and management to their patients.

As this hopefully illustrates, physiotherapy is a combination of different interventions including hands on treatment, education and exercise across all areas of health that aim to improve peoples physical fitness and wellbeing.

It is more than likely, there is a skill set amongst the profession and its different specialist areas that can help you get better or connect you with someone who can. We are very proud at Mitcham Rehab and Marion Sports Physio to have physios who are committed to further learning and postgraduate education.

We are lucky to boast that nearly all of our physios have, or are working towards, postgradute / masters qualifications. As well as this we have two of the highest ranked physios in the country with a Specialisation and Clinical Doctorate under their belts! As well as our own development, our physios all commit to teaching up and coming physios through the South Australian Sports Medicine Association (SASMA), the APA and various university course across Australia and the world.

Want to know more? Head to the APA Website to read about everything there is to know about physiotherapy!

If you are interested in a career in physio, head to the SATAC Website for university entry information. In SA currently you can study at two of the states universities. For information on the UniSA Physio Course click here. For information on the Flinders University course click here.

We hope you enjoyed the read! Back to the books for us …

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