Physiotherapy or physical therapy is an allied health science concerned with helping patients regain or maximise physical movement and functions through exercises and/or therapies, using agents such as heat, wax and electricity. “You are rehabilitating a person, not curing. This means getting the maximum out of whatever potential is left in the individual,” says Rajeev Mehta, head, department of physiotherapy and rehabilitation, Apollo Hospital, Delhi
What do they do?
They once dealt mostly with simpler problems like neck or back aches and a few orthopaedic, neurological and paediatric cases. Today, physiotherapists increasingly render their healing touch to nearly all branches of medicine, from plastic and general surgery to gynaecology, and even sports medicine.
Physiotherapy or physical therapy helps patients regain or maximise physical movement and functions through exercises and/or therapies using agents such as heat, wax and electricity.
Physiotherapists are an integral part of patient care, including in the ICU. “The scope of (a physiotherapist’s) work has increased,” says Dr Dharmendra Kumar, director, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Institute for the Physically Handicapped, New Delhi. “Now people come with complex problems. They have started reporting to physiotherapists as soon as a crisis occurs.” Rajeev Mehta, head, department of physiotherapy and rehabilitation, Apollo Hospital, Delhi, agrees, “Physiotherapy complements every branch of medicine.”
Different departments in bigger hospitals such as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and Safdarjung have physiotherapy units attached. “The positive thing is that this has started happening,” says Dr Kumar. Physiotherapists are part of the deliberations when doctors discuss patients’ cases during afternoon clinics in hospitals, he adds.
“When we were students, we hardly had any exposure to cardiac patients,” says CK Dhawan, chief physiotherapist at AIIMS.
“Today, all post-operative cardiac patients get physiotherapy, which shortens their hospital stay. Earlier, we treated small children, not infants. Now, our work covers almost all disciplines… Physiotherapy is preventive, corrective as well as palliative.”
A lot of students now go for specialisations such as in cardio-thoracic, neurological, musculo-skeletal and paediatric conditions and sports physiotherapy at the postgraduate level.
“The career prospects are very bright in India because nowadays more and more people are becoming aware of physiotherapy,” says Dr Kumar. “We need good physiotherapists, especially in rural areas, where not many choose to go,” says Mehta.
There are wider job avenues today for qualified physiotherapists in hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, rehabilitation centres, private clinics, special schools, fitness centres, and non-government organisations working with the disabled and senior citizens.
However, as in many other fields, the proliferation of ill-equipped private colleges has led to a glut of inadequately trained physiotherapists. “People from sub-standard colleges then have to work at rock-bottom salaries,” says Mehta.
While there is no national regulator yet for the profession of physiotherapy, Delhi and Maharashtra have separate councils that require physiotherapists, as also occupational therapists, to register.
Mehta, however, asks aspirants to do their homework before enrolling for training. “Students must check the standing of the college and faculty — how’s the infrastructure, does it have proper labs, is it attached to a hospital?” Only if an institute ticks the right boxes, can it make you a good physiotherapist.
Source: HT Horizons
. Good communication skills
. Patience, especially when fielding queries from patients and relatives
. Physical stamina
How do I get there?
Take science at the Plus Two level. After this, go for a Bachelor’s in physiotherapy/ physical therapy. Depending upon your interest and career goals, you may specialise at the postgraduate level