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Physiotherapy is an area of rehabilitation geared towards helping individuals who have been disabled through illness or injury regain function. Since the main concern of physiotherapy is movement, a physiotherapist must have a sound knowledge of what normal movement ought to be. Neurological patients such as stroke patients, traumatic brain injury and those suffering from cerebral palsy often present with abnormal movement patterns. A competent physiotherapist will use various modalities and techniques to normalise these patterns and help the patient regain function.
As with all disorders, we begin by evaluating the neurological your level of disability and comparing it with your premorbid level of functioning. A treatment plan is then drawn up, consisting of muscle reeducation, exercise, modalities such as electrical stimulation, transfers and training in some form of assistive device. This is all tailored to meet the needs of the individual. Bed mobility is one of the key areas that we address. If you have hemiplegia (paralysis on one side) or hemiparesis (weakness on one side), it may be a special challenge. However, it is important to train you early in bed mobility in order to prevent bed sores and also to encourage weight bearing on the affected side which will help normalise muscle tone.
Exercise and ambulation are a daily part of the treatment sessions. We work closely with other health professionals, especially the occupational therapist, who will assist the you in regaining function in activities of daily living and where necessary in cognition. The occupational therapist will also train you in the use of adaptive devices so you can regain function in bathing and dressing. Some stroke patients may begin to regain function in the upper or lower extremity within the first week, but for the majority it may take months. Some patients reach a 'plateau', that is a certain level of recovery, then progress ceases. By this time the patient should have learned how to compensate for any remaining deficits.
Patients with orthopedic problems like joint injuries, back and neck problems, arthritis usually have relatively quick results from physiotherapy. For some patients, especially the elderly, learning and practicing safety precautions with transfers and ambulation present a challenge. For example, a post-operative hip patient may have weight bearing precautions prescribed by the doctor, but may forget to observe them. It is the physiotherapist's responsibility to reinforce these precautions during daily sessions. However, most respond well to the daily routine of exercise, ambulation and pain management to aid recovery.
Helping you regain function is our ultimate goal. In order to achieve this goal, you and your family's attitude is paramount. Fortunately, most patients are highly motivated, but for those who are not, patient education on the benefits of physiotherapy may be the key to convincing this person that physiotherapy is beneficial to helping him/her live a better quality of life.
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