What is Physiotherapy?
Physiotherapy (Physical Therapy) is a profession practiced by licensed Physiotherapists (Physical Therapists). It is the assessment and treatment of physical function, for the purpose of promoting good physical function and the relief of pain. Various tests and measures may be used for assessment. Treatment may come in the form of education, exercise prescription, physical techniques (soft tissue, manual techniques, dry needling), electrical modalities (ultrasound, muscle stimulation), taping, etc. A good physiotherapist places emphasis on the individual’s goals and independence. Effective treatment also requires addressing the biomechanical faults that may be the cause or at least contributing to the injury as well as the injury itself. [up]
What kind of training do Physiotherapists have?
Currently Physical Therapy is a Master’s degree at an accredited university. In British Columbia, the only program is offered at the University of British Columbia. Following the Master’s degree, those wanting to practice in Canada must pass a National Licensing Exam before they begin work. As it is a Master’s program, candidates come from a variety of backgrounds, such as the Sciences, Arts or Kinesiology. [up]
What is Kinesiology?
The study of the anatomy, physiology and mechanics of body movement, especially in humans. Kinesiology is one part of physiotherapy training, but also exists as an undergraduate degree. In fact most physiotherapists did kinesiology or human kinetics degrees prior to entering physiotherapy school. [up]
What conditions and injuries do Physiotherapists deal with?
A visit to a physiotherapist can address many physical ailments, too many to list them all. Some of the more common types of conditions include: ligament sprains, muscle or tendon strains, tendonitis, work and sports injuries, back pain, neck pain, overuse injuries, postural problems, post-surgical rehabilitation, whiplash, headaches, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, etc. [up]
What are the main areas of specialization in Physiotherapy?
Generally, physiotherapy is divided into the fields of Orthopaedics, Sports, Neurology, Cardiorespiratory, Burns Treatment and Acupuncture. Other areas of specialization may focus on a specific population, such as Paediatrics and Geriatrics, where a variety of forms of physiotherapy treatment are required. [up]
Physiotherapists only work with athletes, right?
Wrong. Athletes should not be the only ones to benefit from advanced care. You may not run marathons, play basketball or even participate in sports at all, but this does not mean that your injuries are less important. Early rehabilitation is the key to returning to normal activities sooner, and to avoid secondary problems in the future. [up]
Are all Physiotherapists the same?
No. Not all Physiotherapists are the same. Education and licensing in Canada is standardized, so it is to be expected that there will be some variation from one therapist to the next. Therapists may differ in their post graduate training, areas of specialization, as well as their perspective and personality. Our Clinic’s support practices have a firm scientific base, focus on active exercise and treat all the biomechanical factors related to the injury, and not just the injury itself. You should find a physiotherapist who suits your needs. [up]
Do I need a doctor’s referral to see a Physiotherapist?
No. You DO NOT require a doctor’s referral to see a Physiotherapist in British Columbia. However, some extended benefits plans may require you to submit a doctor’s referral for reimbursement; and ICBC (Massage Therapy and Program clients) or WCB claims do require referrals. [up]
Is there a user fee per visit?
You are now required to pay privately for your assessment and treatment, but most extended health benefit plans do cover most of the cost of treatment. This fee is reduced if you are covered under MSP premium assistance or if you are an ICBC claimant. If you are covered on a WCB claim, the user fee is fully covered. [up]
How many visits are covered by MSP?
In the past, the Medical Services Plan (MSP) of BC partially covered 12 – 15 physiotherapy visits per year. Today, users are required to pay full private fees. Extended Health Benefits usually provide partial or full coverage for physiotherapy services to a pre-set maximum allowance. This figure, along with the percentage covered, will vary among health plans. This now makes finding an extended health plan that provides adequate coverage for physiotherapy much more important, (see your plan for details). [up]
How do I choose the Physiotherapist that is right for me?
Physiotherapists take special training to specialize in certain fields, such as orthopaedics, neurological rehabilitation, child development, etc. When calling a clinic you may want to inquire about the area of specialization of the therapist you’re considering, depending on the particular condition or situation. For additional help in choosing a Physiotherapist, visit the Physiotherapy Association of BC and use the “Find a Physiotherapist Online Directory”. [up]
How do I go about becoming a Physiotherapist?
There are thirteen physiotherapy programs across Canada, and each may have slight differences in the conditions for acceptance. To learn more, go to the Physiotherapy Association of BC and search under the “Resources” heading. [up]