A physiotherapist may be able to help an individual cope better with symptoms such as neck pain, dizziness and balance problems, as well as with muscle weaknesses and areas of numbness or tingling affecting the arms or legs. Physiotherapists work, overall, to restore physical function and improve independence. They often work alongside other allied health professionals, including occupational therapists and speech and language therapists.
A physiotherapist may also be involved in care prior to and after any neurosurgical procedures. For example, a physiotherapist will often be involved in helping a patient mobilise after surgery, teaching various methods of adapting and then further managing recovery at home. In doing this, a physiotherapist will liaise with the wider team to ensure that you are discharged home safely.
Physiotherapy intervention is wide ranging. It can encompass advice, exercise, manual therapy and measures such as acupuncture and hydrotherapy. An in-depth assessment is usually carried out at the initial meeting with a patient. This may cover aspects such as the history of that person’s condition, any medications he or she is taking and details of any previous therapy and surgery. It is important to identify the individual’s goals and what he or she hopes to gain from physiotherapy. A physical assessment will likely then follow, including assessment of various aspects of neurological function, such as mobility, balance, joint range of movement, muscle power and sensation. From this assessment therapist and patient can establish which areas are presenting difficulties and how physiotherapy may be able to help. Any therapy intervention needs to be reviewed regularly, to ensure it is proving effective in helping the individual to achieve his or her goals.
Physiotherapy is available in a variety of settings. For example, if in hospital you may be referred to the physiotherapy team working on the ward you are in. Community physiotherapy is accessible through a GP, or it can be independently sourced in the private sector. People seeking private physiotherapy in the UK should know that all therapists must be registered with the ‘healthcare professions council’ (HCPC); this register is publicly available online at www.hcpc-uk.org.