World Physical Therapy Day falls on 8th September every year, and is an opportunity for physical therapists (also known in some countries as physiotherapists) from all over the world to raise awareness about the crucial role their profession plays in making and keeping people well, mobile and independent. The day was established in 1996, by the World Confederation for Physical Therapy – the profession’s global body representing over 300,000 physical therapists/physiotherapists in 101 countries.
Physical therapists, (also known as physiotherapists) are experts in developing and maintaining people’s ability to move and function throughout their lives. With an advanced understanding of how the body moves and what keeps it from moving well, they promote wellness, mobility and independence. They treat and prevent many problems caused by pain, illness, disability and disease, sport and work related injuries, ageing and long periods of inactivity.
Physical therapists work with people affected by a wide range of conditions and symptoms, for example:
- painful conditions such as arthritis, repetitive strain injury, neck and back pain
- strokes, Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord injury
- heart problems
- cystic fibrosis and cerebral palsy
- trauma, such as road traffic accidents and landmines
They work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, health centres, sports centres, education and research centres, hospices and nursing homes, rural and community settings.
Here are some examples of how physical therapists make a difference. They:
- use their skills to treat the underlying causes of pain and limitations in movement and function
- use many treatment approaches to help individuals regain their mobility and maximise their potential
- promote healthy lifestyles and exercise
- treat each patient/client as an individual and thoroughly assess them to identify their needs
- treat sports injuries and promote safe and healthy activities
- work with children with coordination, balance and other movement problems to improve and maximise their independence.
To achieve all this, physical therapists are educated over several years at the graduate school level, giving them a full knowledge of the body’s systems and the skills to treat a wide range of problems. Continuing education ensures that they keep up to date with the latest advances in research and practice. Many physical therapists are engaged in research themselves.
More detailed information about what physical therapists do can be found in WCPT’s Description of Physical Therapy at www.wcpt.org/publications/docs.php
This information may be freely reproduced with acknowledgement to WCPT.