Description of Physiotherapy

The Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA), in consultation with CPA Branch Presidents and Division Chairs and regulatory and academic representatives, has updated the Description of Physiotherapy in Canada:

The heart of the physiotherapy profession… is understanding how and why movement and function take place. Physiotherapists are highly skilled and autonomous health professionals who provide safe, quality client-centred physiotherapy through a commitment to service availability, accessibility and excellence.

How physiotherapists assess

A physiotherapist will assess you using detailed history-taking as well as specific physical tests and measures, such as flexibility or range of motion. He or she will then analyze the assessment findings and use clinical reasoning to establish a diagnosis. Together, you will explore your current abilities and functional needs so the physiotherapist can plan treatments that are consistent with your goals and general health status, and which incorporate approaches and techniques supported by the best evidence available.

How physiotherapists treat

Physiotherapy treatments can include the following:

  • Personalized exercise programs designed to improve your strength, range of motion, and function
  • Massage
  • Joint mobilization and manipulation to reduce pain and stiffness
  • Hot and coldpacks and modalities to relieve pain, reduce swelling, speed up the healing process, improve movement and function
  • Airway clearance methods to assist people with breathing difficulties
  • Skin and wound care
  • Management of incontinence including pelvic floor re-education
  • Functional activity and tolerance testing and training
  • Work and occupational re-training and return to work planning
  • Prescription, fabrication and application of assistive, adaptive, supportive and protective devices and equipment
  • Environmental change, focusing on removing barriers to function
  • Source: Canadian Physiotherapy Association