Physiotherapists are health workers who support people of any age who are experiencing difficulties with moving part or all of their bodies due to injury, illness or disability. In mental health services, physiotherapists understand people’s psychological needs and the impact of physical health difficulties on emotions.
Rather than focusing on the main area of injury or illness, physiotherapists will consider the body as a whole, looking at how different areas are connected, aiming to improve a range of conditions:
- Neurological (stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s)
- Neuromusculoskeletal (back pain, whiplash associated disorder, sports injuries, arthritis)
- Cardiovascular (chronic heart disease, rehabilitation after heart attack)
- Respiratory (asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis)
Physiotherapists can then provide advice and support specific to the area they are treating, such as:
- Posture care (advice about sitting and standing)
- Lifting and carrying to avoid injury and prevent injuries from worsening
- Breathing difficulties
- Helpful equipment (such as wheelchairs, walking sticks and frames, and chairs)
- Strengthening and mobility exercises
- Manual therapy (where a physiotherapist would use their hands to relieve pain, aches and stiffness)
- Water exercises (such as hydrotherapy)
Where might I find a physiotherapist?
Physiotherapists work in hospitals, sports centres, in clinics and occupational health services.
How can I see a physiotherapist?
Physiotherapists work in the NHS and private practice; to see a physiotherapist in the NHS you would normally need to be referred by your GP, although in some areas it is possible to refer yourself.
In mental health services, your mental health worker can also arrange this.