Physiotherapy is a subdivision of rehabilitative medicine geared towards helping patients improve, recover or maintain their physical abilities. It also involves the treatment of any injury, disease or pain caused by physical means. As such, physiotherapists deal with patients whose movements may be limited by sporting hazards, aging, and environmental factors. In other words, physiotherapists seek to identify and maximize movement potential through treatment, rehabilitation, and prevention of physical disability.

Which subjects do physiotherapists study?

Physiotherapy is a clinical health science where physiotherapists study physiology, anatomy, and neuroscience. Through these medical subjects, they acquire the health education needed for treatment, diagnoses, and prevention of physical impairments. Physical therapists work in hospitals as primary care medicine practitioners. In many countries, a physiotherapist must be registered by law and fully qualified. For one to qualify as a physical therapist, you must be a holder of a university degree in physiotherapy or a health science degree related to physical therapy. Physical therapists are experts in the examination and treatment of neuromuscular, cardiothoracic, and musculoskeletal related-diseases. They focus on conditions that undermine patients’ movement potential.

Areas of specialty

Physiotherapists leverage their skills and knowledge to treat a broad range of physical conditions and problems linked to the different body systems.

Respiratory system

Here, physical therapists deal with body organs that are involved in breathing such as nose, trachea, bronchi, and throat. Although physiotherapists work autonomously, they coordinate with other social care and health care practitioners.

Neuromuscular systems

Here, physiotherapists are concerned about muscles and nerves. They specialize in the treatment of neuromuscular junction and neuromuscular transmission to enable the transfer of impulse and information from the nerves to the muscles.

Cardiovascular systems

It involves the treatment of the heart and the circulatory system.


It is a body system that gives us the ability to move through bones and muscles. It gives us form, stability, and capacity to move. Musculoskeletal system includes ligaments, tendons, connective tissue, and joints.

Roles of a physiotherapist

Physical therapists provide services that help prevent permanent disabilities, improve mobility, restore function, relieve pain, and limit permanent disability for patients with physical problems.


Treatment involves body exercise aimed at increasing body strength, endurance, and flexibility.

Reduction of swelling

Physical therapists use cold compresses, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and hot packs to reduce swelling.

Pain reduction

Physiotherapists use deep-tissue massage and traction to reduce pain while improving blood circulation and flexibility.

Mobility enhancement

Physical therapists use wheelchairs, crutches, and prostheses to help restore or improve mobility and dexterity.

Unlike other medical practitioners, a physiotherapist monitors patient’s progress, conducts periodic examinations as well as adapting treatment along the way as required. For a physical therapist to succeed, they must liaise with social workers, speech-language pathologists, nurses, doctors, and parents as they keep notes on the patient’s progress.

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