Physiotherapy/Physical Therapy ( Physio = Physical agents, Therapy = Treatment) is a branch of medical science in which diseases/disabilities are treated with the help of physical means/agents e.g. exercise, electrical equipments like Muscle Stimulator, SWD etc, different types of rays like Infra-red, Ultraviolet rays etc. In the perspective of today's health conscious society Physiotherapy is not only concerned with treating diseases/disabilities rather it has become an indispensable part of healthy living life style. Everybody wants to be fit physically, mentally as well as socially so Physiotherapy provides a niche to all of them.
Physiotherapy is a type of medical science which is used to improve movement dysfunctions, to promote the functions of human body and optimal health. Physiotherapy is an important part of Rehabilitation dedicated to minimize disability among people. It involves the maintenance, assessment, restoration of the physical functions and body performance. Physiotherapy is mainly recommended for the physically challenged people, the people suffering from degenerative disorders like arthritis, neurological disorders and sports persons. It is one of the rapidly growing areas of medicine that involves heat radiations, massages, tractions, hydrotherapy and short wave diathermy (SWD).
The Physiotherapy is a healthcare profession which deals with movement disorders of the body arising from certain conditions or illnesses. Treatment through physiotherapy can also be more efficient and cheap than other traditional medication or therapy. One of the main advantages of Physiotherapy is it has less or no side effect as compared to other systems of treatment. Because of its less side effects Physiotherapy has become popular among the intellectual people of our society.
Nature of Work
Usually, the person who performs physiotherapy profession is called a Physiotherapist/Physical therapist. Physiotherapists assess, diagnose and treat people whose movement is restricted by injury, illness or age. Individuals in the physiotherapy career study their patient's history and physical condition in dealing with the movement disorders. They use a range of treatments including exercises, manipulation, massage, different electrotherapy modalities e.g. ultrasound, electrical stimulation and deep heat.
A career in physiotherapy combines understanding, expertise and methodology to handle certain physical and mental problems of the patient. Physiotherapists trace the roots of these problems to certain conditions of particular parts of the human body such as the brain, nervous system, soft tissues, joints, bones, heart or lungs. When patients have movement disorders, they are usually advised by their physicians to consult a physiotherapist. Today, the growth of the physiotherapy career can be seen by the increasing number of people who proceeds directly to a physiotherapist without being advised first by their doctors. A doctor usually refers clients to the physiotherapist, who then assesses their capabilities and decides upon the most appropriate treatment. Initial assessment is made using referral notes and consulting the patients. Physiotherapists then use physical tests such as measuring the range of movement, checking of muscle power and the girth of limbs to determine muscle wastage.
Physiotherapists treat a wide range of different people with a variety of needs. Patients may be of sports injury, amputees, stroke patients, children with severe disabilities, pre- or post-operative patients or those with psychiatric problems. Sports injuries have been increasing day by day in sports loving country like India, so Sports Physiotherapists are in great demand. They apply some special techniques like sports taping, stretching to prevent and to correct these injuries. Children with Cerebral Palsy (CP) are getting good results from Physiotherapy treatment. Exercises may be devised and taught to develop balance, maintain/improve range of motion of joints, strengthen weak muscles or help patients to relax. Hydrotherapy is particularly useful as the water takes the weight off limbs and the heat soothes pains and relaxes muscles. Hydrotherapy is of great helpful for arthritis patients. Physiotherapists may also select appropriate appliances such as crutches, walking aids, braces, splints or wheelchairs and teach patients how to use them. Patients gain more benefits through the use of these aids.
Health education and the prevention of injury and illness are becoming increasingly important. One example of this aspect of work is teaching relaxation techniques to expectant mothers and developing exercise programmes to help them regain muscle control/strength after giving birth. Prenatal and postnatal exercises are very beneficial for a woman during maternity period. Physiotherapists help and treat people of all ages with physical problems caused by illness, accident or ageing.
Physiotherapists may work in wide areas like sports, outpatients, intensive care unit (ICU), women's health, care of the elderly, stroke patients, orthopedics, mental illness, learning difficulties, occupational health, pediatrics etc.
A Physiotherapist should have personal qualities like tolerance, compassion, ability to work independently or in a team, excellent time management skills, interest in people, good communication skills, patience and empathy, physical fitness and good general health, problem solving skills, responsible and mature attitude towards the needs of patients.
Physiotherapy requires hard work and perseverance. It is a profession concerned with the health and well-being of patients. Anyone adopting for career in Physiotherapy must be able to encourage, reassure and persuade patients of the ultimate benefits of their treatment. You'll need to be skilled in listening, explaining and report writing. Being an occupation dealing with healthcare, the profession itself is associated with the public interest. It is highly ideal that physiotherapy continues to grow and evolve. This can be done through intensive research and of course, through continuous promotion of the career. This type of service is full of opportunities and the benefits can be very rewarding. People interested will find that a career in physiotherapy can be rich with knowledge and application.
Physiotherapy is a teamwork so a Physiotherapist should be able to build up a rapport with patients, it is equally important to maintain communication with their relatives as well as Rehabilitation Professionals like Occupational therapists, General Practitioners, Health visitors, Nurses and Social workers. Physiotherapy personnel should be able to utilize the qualities like positive attitude, ability to instill confidence and courage in patients, strength of mind and purpose, ability for teamwork, good powers of observations, and a sympathetic approach towards the patients.
Anyone seeking admission in Physiotherapy course should have keen interest in biological sciences as well as willingness to serve humanity. Candidates who have completed 17 years of age and passed the 10+2 or equivalent examination, with Physics, Chemistry, Biology and English are eligible to apply for Bachelor of Physiotherapy (BPT) course. Eligibility for Master of Physiotherapy (MPT) course is 50 % marks in BPT with completion of six months internship. Study of Masters Course is related with research work, so one should have interest in such dedicated work.
In India, several kinds of courses are available with different durations e.g. Diploma in Physiotherapy(DPT) of two & half years, Bachelor of Physiotherapy(BPT) of four & half years, Master of Physiotherapy(MPT) of two/three years as well as PhD in Physiotherapy of three years duration.
The Bachelor degree program in Physiotherapy includes some major subjects like anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, medicine, orthopedics, neurology, pathology, psychology, biomechanics, exercise therapy and electrotherapy. Physiotherapy education is given through classroom lectures, hands-on learning, practical classes, and laboratory work. Usually, students are also given a minimum requirement of clinical hours for the program. The requirements for studying physiotherapy will depend on the legal requirements for practicing physiotherapy in every country. There are some countries which require a bachelor's degree before getting into a physiotherapy program. In some countries, it is also required that they pass a national licensing examination before practicing physiotherapy. The physiotherapy career is devoted to lifetime education. Physiotherapists must continue to improve and maintain their skills through mandatory continuous learning through education and work experience. Physiotherapy program also includes seminars, conferences as well as different valuable workshops.
Master in Physiotherapy (MPT) course is available in various branches like:
- Sports Physiotherapy: This is one of the demanding specializations concerned with sports related injury, maintenance of fitness as well as improvement of sports strategy. Sports Physiotherapists are in great demand in foreign countries like USA, Canada, and Australia. This specialization covers topics related with sports, musculoskeletal, Kinanthropometry; cardiopulmonary emphasing on special techniques like sports taping, sports massage, on field management of injury.
- Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy (Orthopedics): This is the most common area of specialization, concerned with muscles, bones, and joints. It involves treating acute or chronic conditions such as arthritis, bursitis, spasms, sprains, strains, and tendonitis, and improved rehabilitation following injury or surgery. Orthopedic physiotherapists diagnose, manage, and treat disorders and injuries of the musculoskeletal system as well as rehabilitation after orthopedic surgery. Joint mobilizations, strength training, hot/cold packs, Wax bath, Electrotherapy modalities like electrical stimulation, Ultrasound, IFT, TENS, SWD are often used to expedite recovery in the orthopedic setting.
- Cardiopulmonary Physiotherapy: This area of specialization is concerned mainly with the function of the cardiorespiratory system. Primary goals of this specialty include increasing endurance and functional independence. Manual therapy is utilized in this field to assist in clearing lung secretions experienced with various cariorespiratory disorders. Cardiothoracic physiotherapists mainly work in hospitals or rehabilitation clinics, treating patients with chronic obstructive diseases of the airways (such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema) or providing improved rehabilitation for patients following any general, cardiac, or thoracic surgery. They may also assist with the recovery of patients in intensive care units (ICU).
- Neurological Physiotherapy: Neurological physiotherapy is a discipline concerned with disorders of the nervous system; neurological physiotherapists assess the impact of neurological conditions (like Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis) and neurological trauma (such as head or spinal injuries, strokes, or brain surgery) on patients' normal bodily functions and movements. Common symptoms of neurological disorders include paralysis, vision impairment, poor balance, inability to ambulate, and loss of functional independence. Therapists work to improve these areas of dysfunction. They also design and implement strategies that can assist in the recovery of normal function, usually in conjunction with other medical or health care professionals.
- Geriatric Physiotherapy: It covers a wide area of issues concerning people as they go through normal physiological aging, but is usually focused on the olders. There are many conditions that affect people as they grow older and include arthritis, osteoporosis, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, hip and joint replacement, balance disorders, incontinence, etc. Geriatric physiotherapy helps those affected by such problems in developing a specialized program to help restore mobility, reduce pain, and increase fitness levels.
- Pediatric physiotherapy: It assists in early detection of health problems and uses a wide variety of modalities to treat disorders in the pediatric population. These therapists are specialized in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of infants, children, and adolescents with a variety of congenital, developmental, neuromuscular, skeletal, or acquired disorders/diseases. Treatments focus on improving gross and fine motor skills, balance and coordination, strength and endurance as well as cognitive and sensory processing/integration. Children with developmental delays, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, or torticollis, may be treated by pediatric physiotherapists.
- Other areas of specialization are also available e.g. Rehabilitation, Pediatrics, Geriatrics, Manual therapy, Gynecology and so on.
How to choose Course/Institute?
The selection of the institute is important otherwise it would be a wastage of precious time and money. Before selecting any institute, one should consider the following points e.g. reputation of the institute, recognition of institute, how old the institute is, efficiency of faculty members of the institute, infrastucture of the institute etc. The apex body for Physiotherapy education in India is Indian Association of Physiotherapists (IAP). If your desired institute is IAP recognised it would be an added advantage for your future strive. One should go for higher studies like MPT for better employment opportunity.
In India, universities offer undergraduate program of physiotherapy with four years of academic and clinical program and 6 months of compulsory internship. There are over 300 colleges offering undergraduate program in physiotherapy (BPT) and more than 50 colleges offering Masters in Physiotherapy (MPT) with 2 years duration. PhD in Physiotherapy is offered in some universities of the states Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Colleges, Institutions and Universities
List of colleges imparting quality education in Physiotherapy is available on website for Indian Association of Physiotherapists (www.physiotherapyindia.org). Some of the top colleges in India providing Physiotherapy education are listed below.
- National Institute of Rehabilitation Training & Research (NIRTAR), P O Olatpur, Cuttack, Orissa 754010. Website: www.nirtar.nic.in
- National Institute for the Orthopedically Handicapped (NIOH), Bon Hoogly, B T road, Calcutta 700 090.
- Institute of Physically Handicapped, 4 Vishnu Digamber Marg, New Delhi. Website: www.iphnewdelhi.in
- College of Physiotherapy, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Research, Chandigarh.
- Department of Sports Medicine and Physiotherapy, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, Punjab. Website: www.gndu.ac.in
- School of Physiotherapy, Orthopedic Center, KEM Hospital, Parel, Mumbai 400 012.
- School of Physiotherapy, SSG Hospital, Vaddodara, 390 001.
- School of Physiotherapy, paraplegia Hospital, New Civil Hospital, Asarva, Ahmedabad - 16.
- Physiotherapy School & Center, Govt Medical College 7 Hospital, Nagpur 440 003.
- Anand Urban Society Trust's College of Physiotherapy , OPP GPO, J. P. Road, Anand,388 001. Gujarat.
- Pravara College of Physiotherapy, PO Loni BK, Ahmednagar 413 736. Website: www.pravara.com
- Sancheti College of Physiotherapy, 16 Shivaji Nagar, Pune 411 005.
- Ravi Nair College of Physiotherapy, Wardha, 2001-03-08.
- VPSM's College of Physiotherapy, Digdoh Hills, Hinghna Road, Nagpur, 440 019.
- Sarvajanik College of Physiotherapy, Lokahat mullah hospital, Ramnagar, Surat
- Shree Swaminarayan College of Physiotherapy, N.H. No 8 &6 Kadodara Char Rasta Taluka Palsana, Surat 394327.
- SBB College of Physiotherapy, Sheth V.S. General Hospital Campus, Ellisbridge, Ahmedabad 380016.
- K.M.Patel Institute of Physiotherapy, Shree Krishna Hospital, Gokul Nagar, Karamsad 388325
- Dr. D.Y.Patil College of Physiotherapy, Dr.D.Y.Patil Medical College Campus Sant Tukaram Nagar, Pimpri, Pune 411018.
- K.J. Pandya College of Physiotherapy, Sumandeep Vidyapeeth University, Waghodia Road, Piparia, Vadodara. Website: www.sumandeepuniversity.co.in Ph: 02668245292
- School of Physiotherapy, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Government of West Bengal, Calcutta.
- Bihar College of Physiotherapy, Patna Medical College Campus, Viklang Bhavan Hospital, Kankarbagh, Patna.
- Amar Jyothi College of Physiotherapy, Karkardooma, Vikas marg, Delhi 110092.
- Career College of Physiotherapy, Opp Dushehara Maiden, Govindupura, Bhel, Bhopal, 462023.
- Lyllapur Khalsa College of Physiotherapy. Jalandhar, 144001
- Rajiv Gandhi College of Physiotherapy, E-8 Trilanga Colony, Shahpura, Bhopal, 462039.
- SBS Institute of Biomedical Sciences and research, Balawala Dehradun 248161.
- Department of Physiotherapy, Guru Jambheshwar University, Hisar, Haryana. Website: www.gju.ernet.in
- Department of Physiotherapy, Punjabi University, Patiala- 147002. Website: www.punjabiuniversity.ac.in
- DAV Institute of Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation, Mahatama Hansraj Marg, G.T. Road, Jalandhar, 144008.
- Department of physiotherapy, Bangalore Medical College, Bangalore.
- Department of Physiotherapy, Manipal College of Allied Health Science, KMC, Manipal, 576119. Website: www.manipal.edu
- Gautham College of Physiotherapy, 1456, II Stage Ext., Shankar Mutt Road, Mahalakshmi Layout, Bangalore 560086.
- KLE Institute of Physiotherapy, JNMC Campus, Belgaum 590 010. Website: www.kleuniversity.edu.in
- Nitte College of Physiotherapy, KS hedge Medical College, Deralakatte, Mangalore 574159. Website: www.nitte.ac.in
- Srinivasa College of Physiotherapy, GHS Road, Mangalore 575001.
- Shreedevi College of Physiotherapy, Maina Tower, Ballal Bagh, Mangalore 575003.
- Sri. Ramchandra Medical College & College of Physiotherapy, Ramachandra Nagar, Porur, Chennai.
As physiotherapists can treat a wide range of disorders, they are highly in demand today making career physiotherapy very attractive. Hence, one can opt for various physiotherapy courses and also go for specializations such as geriatrics, sports physiotherapy, pediatrics, orthopedics, neurology and cardiopulmonary physiotherapy.
The physiotherapy career has many opportunities. Those in this type of career can practice in different places. They can practice their profession in hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, schools, offices, factories, fitness centers, sports clubs and even in the homes of patients. They can be employed by healthcare companies and they can likewise be self-employed professionals.
Currently there is a lot of demand for physiotherapists in the USA, Canada and Australia. In India, too the demand is rapidly increasing. It is estimated that one physiotherapist is required per 10,000 people. Moreover, the increasingly sedentary urban lifestyles and lack of exercise brings on a whole gamut or body aches and pains, which requires the assistance of specialized physiotherapists.
The growing awareness of the role of physiotherapy can play in enabling the physically challenged people to lead productive lives has also increased the demand for trained professionals. Once one has some clinical experience a specialization may be selected among any areas, such as orthopedics, sports, neurology, cardiopulmonary, obstetrics or working with older people. Physiotherapists may find work in various places like:
- Centers for physically and mentally challenged people
- Community health centers
- Government hospitals
- Mental health centers
- Nursing homes or private care centers
- Private and public hospitals
- Private practices
- Rehabilitation centers
- Sports clinics and fitness centers
- Universities and Colleges
Physiotherapists may also find work as specialist researchers, advisers or consultants with research centers or in private industry. More experienced and qualified practitioners later find employment opportunities in administration and management, or as directors of major research projects and facilities. With increased emphasis on sports and fitness and with greater awareness of occupational health and safety, aged care, and the needs of disabled people, further opportunities will also continue to emerge for people with training in physiotherapy to contribute to community education programs. Teaching jobs in Physiotherapy are quite excellent in India. After completing Masters degree in Physiotherapy one may join any College/University as a Lecturer, then Assistant Professor after three years of teaching experience and then higher posts as per the experience.
The initial remuneration of physiotherapists varies from place to place. In India starting earnings may vary from Rs 5,000 to Rs 30,000 per month. Generally, hospitals provide remuneration ranging between Rs 5,000 to Rs 15,000 per month plus share basis depending on the number of patients. Average salary for teaching jobs in Physiotherapy varies from Rs 10,000 to Rs 40,000 per month. The remuneration for established private practitioners can be nearly Rs 20,000 to 40,000 per month. Most physiotherapists with a five-year experience can start their own practice. They charge usually around Rs. 250 to 400 per sitting. Remuneration for Physiotherapists varies from Rs 50,000 to Rs 2,00,000 per month in some foreign countries like USA, Canada, UAE, Australia.
In India, Physiotherapy is a flourishing career option. One may select different fields of Physiotherapy as an employment option e.g. clinical, teaching, or research or all the areas. There are ample employment opportunities for the physiotherapists in government and private sectors. There are numerous clinics, hospitals, health departments, private nursing homes and rehabilitation centers in India where the physiotherapists may work. They can get self employment by starting private practice. They can select the teaching option starting career as a Lecturer. They are employed in the schools for mentally retarded and physically challenged children, defense medical establishments and rehabilitation centers. The physiotherapists can get excellent jobs in countries like USA, Australia and Canada. Thus the scope of a Physiotherapy career is quite vast. All the major hospitals have a Physiotherapy Department and they employ Physiotherapists as an indispensable part of their organization. One of the emerging fields of Physiotherapy is Sports as awareness of sports has been increased everywhere in the world. A Sports Physiotherapist may work in any sports club, sports team and start his/her own clinic.
There is tremendous scope for Physiotherapists to continue to develop their skills and expertise through further courses in areas such as manipulation, sports injuries, pediatrics and mental illness. As compared to other paramedical professions, employment opportunities for physiotherapists are excellent, as this is a career where the demand exceeds supply. The requirement for physiotherapists in India and abroad, especially in countries like USA, Canada and Australia is immense. Thus Physiotherapy provides a vast range of opportunities from a clinician to a researcher.