Physiotherapists are healthcare professionals who work with people of all ages who have difficulty with moving, performing daily activities or functioning.
This may be due to an injury, an illness or a condition stopping them from functioning to their full capacity.
Physiotherapists also work with people to reduce the risk of illness or injury.
Some of the health conditions that physiotherapists see include problems with bones, brain and nerves, heart, lungs and breathing and they see some people at every stage of their illness and condition.
Where they do not have the skills to treat certain conditions, they will refer people to other healthcare experts, so people’s needs are met.
They may work on their own or as part of a team, in the hospital, in the community or at GP surgeries, in sports or in clinic.
Some physiotherapists can see people in their own homes.
Philippa, advanced practice physiotherapist, specialist in foot and ankle
Why did you want to be a physiotherapist?
I studied sciences at A-level. I developed an interest in disability. Through volunteer work with young disabled people, I recognised the impact that physiotherapy could have on that population.
I gained my degree in physiotherapy and realised the huge spectrum of people that can benefit from physiotherapy, from tiny babies to the very elderly. My graduate job allowed me to spend time working in many different specialisms, and I gradually became more specialist and progressed into a highly specialist role.
I see all sorts of people with foot and ankle issues. They could have had anything from a simple sprain to complex foot surgery. My work is spilt between the physiotherapy gym where I oversee a patient’s exercise plan.
I might be working with a patient with complex health needs who’s goal it is to be able to walk out into the garden on a sunny day, or it could be a high-level athlete who needs help to fulfil their training and competition goals.
The rehabilitation gym is well equipped with lots of machines that are found in a standard gym, so it’s a great environment to help people get better.
I also work in a clinic setting where I see patients who might need something other than physiotherapy. They could need scans, braces, or surgery. My job in clinic is to make a thorough assessment of the patient and agree their overall management plan.
To do this well I have to communicate with other members of the multidisciplinary team such as surgeons, radiologists, radiographers, orthotists and occupational therapists.
Most fulfilling part of the job?
Iâ¯love meeting people from all walks of life. I find the human body’s response to injury and exercise fascinating; no two people are the same. I have to get to know a person to help them get better. I learn something new every day.
As a physiotherapist I have the skills and knowledge to help someone achieve their goals. My job is to communicate that clearly to a person, and there is huge reward on travelling alongside a patient in their journey through rehabilitation.
Sharon, assistant physiotherapy practitioner (APP)
Why did you want to be a physiotherapy assistant?
I wanted to be a physiotherapy assistant as I found the role to be interesting and liked the idea of working alongside physiotherapists to care, encourage and motivate patients with rehabilitation and be a part of their recovery journey. It is a very rewarding role.
Day to day tasks?
I work alongside physiotherapists in a busy musculoskeletal (MSK) outpatients department and sometimes I help in the hydrotherapy pool.â¯MSK focuses on muscles and joints, posture, balance and movement of the body.
I work independently facilitating my own work caseload.â¯ Patients are referred to our service and assessed by the physiotherapists who then delegate work to me.â¯I help implement and supervise physiotherapy exercise programmes for patients. These exercises can help with strengthening and achieving a better range of movement of limbs and joints and can increase confidence, especially with balance issues.â¯
We deal with different aspects of physiotherapy rehabilitation, so we see a mixture of different MSK problems every day.â¯ I encourage and guide the patients with their exercise programme, if improving I increase the level of exercises but also feedback any problems encountered to my superiors, if I need advice.â¯ Communication is really important in this job to ensure the patient is getting the best care.
I assist the physiotherapists in group therapy classes for various joints, these include back class and hand class. Hand class involves wax therapy, applying paraffin wax from a wax bath to hands/wrists to ease aches and pains.â¯
I also complete mobility assessments, measuring and issuing walking aids and splints for wrists, hands and elbows.â¯ When issuing walking aids, I also have to re-order stock back into our department as well as information booklets for patient use, so we always have enough in stock.â¯ Lastly, I ensure the department is tidy, well stocked and kept clean.â¯
Most fulfilling part of the job?
The most fulfilling part of my job is working alongside my physiotherapy colleagues, we support each other and work towards the same goal, providing a seamless service to our patients and carers.
My work with patients is also very satisfying, especially seeing improvements and that the optimum recovery has been achieved.