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The Right Understanding of Physical Therapy

Stephen WANG, Physical Therapist

Many people may misunderstand physiotherapy simply as massage, which is in fact just a small technique involved.

In fact, physiotherapy can involve a number of different treatments and preventative approaches, depending on the specific problems people are experiencing.

It involves a wide range of physical factors, such as mechanics, acousto optic magnetocaloric, therapeutic equipment, ultrasonic, infrared ray and ultraviolet radiation, and hydrotherapy which is more popularly applied, as well as electrotherapy, cryotherapy and thermotherapy.

Manual therapy is also applied for treatment, and cold and thermal therapies can be made at home.

Physiotherapists usually recommend movement and exercise to help improve people’s mobility and function.

In some cases, assistive or rehabilitative devices are also applied to help patients recover their mobility.  For example, specifically designed spoons or chopsticks are used to help people suffering from hand function failure to accomplish some motions more easily.

There is a trend that robots are used to assist in the rehabilitation of patients, for example in gait (walking).

Who may need physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is sometimes linked with sports medicine and is provided for people suffering from sports injuries such as arthritis, bone fracture, scoliosis, sprained ankle, tennis elbow, shoulder joint injury, meniscus injury and knee injury.

It is also applied for people with tenosynovitis, neck pain, and backache, and people who are in recovery stage after surgery.

In some cases, it is applied before surgeries and can replace surgery if patients recover.

In the nerve field, it is applied on patients suffering from stroke, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy and cerebral trauma.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, heart disease such as myocardial ischemia and myocardial infarction are also covered by physiotherapy as it can enhance people’s cardiorespiratory functions and prevent complications.

What’s the significance of physiotherapy?

Surgery can only tackle injury and structure problems, while physiotherapy, more importantly, can help patients better recover function of affected limbs or parts of the body and return to their normal life.

There is a saying that a successful surgery actually involves 50 percent surgery and 50 percent rehabilitation.

TCM is also involved in physiotherapy.

Some people misunderstand that their disease is cured after surgery, which is wrong.

Moreover, being continuously bed-ridden after surgery for recovery is not recommended either.

Lying on the bed for long periods of time will lead to more problems, such as myatrophy and cardiorespiratory function problems, according medical experts.

The early intervention of rehabilitation is important for good recovery.

Physiotherapy covers all age groups.

Because it involves a wide range of areas, co-operation is conducted among different departments to popularise its concepts among the public.

At United family Healthcare, postpartum recovery, including psychological counseling via physiotherapy is also provided because proper sports can improve the mood.

In fact, physiotherapy also plays an important role in the recovery of COVID-19 patients. Physiotherapists will provide guidance on how to enhance physical fitness, curb expiratory dyspnea, enhance muscle strength, improve body balance, relieve pressure and enhance a sense of confidence and vitality via sports.

Regular short-time sports is recommended for COVID-19 patients during their recovery.

Because COVID-19 patients were once in a critical condition, they would need to get rid of sequelae such as lung function impairment, muscle weakness due to long-time use of a respirator, movement restriction and being bed-ridden, physiotherapists play an even more significant role in their recovery.

These patients face the risks of restriction in cognition, body, emotion and social function as well.

As a result, physiotherapists can help them do some simple sports, recover their lung function, tackle fatigue and expiratory dyspnea, and return to their normal life a lot earlier than they might have otherwise.

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