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How do you choose a Physio best for your needs?

Updated: Dec 21, 2022

There are many different types of Physio and it is important to be aware of your specific needs and research the most suitable person when choosing a Physiotherapist.

A non specialised Physio practice is generalised and will see a range of conditions, usually musculoskeletal, (joint and muscle conditions), often mainly acute injuries, including sports injuries and prevention.

Initial consultations, or assessments are generally around one hour, and follow up sessions are usually 20-30 minutes.

Treatment after assessment may include hands on manipulations or joint mobilisations, soft tissue massage, electrotherapy treatment and exercise program prescription, performed at home.

Patient working with his Physiotherapist on his stretching program
Patient working with his Physiotherapist on his stretching program

For chronic, or longer term conditions and disabilities it is important to know how to choose a physiotherapist with a special interest and additional training in these conditions.

In addition to acute musculoskeletal and sports Physiotherapy other types of Physiotherapy treatment include:

  • Geriatric Physio, working with the elderly, specialising in the most common age related conditions.

  • Orthopaedic Physio, specialising in rehab post fractures or joint replacements.

  • Chronic Pain Physio, for long term, ongoing conditions causing pain, including Physiotherapy for chronic back pain and Physiotherapy for chronic neck pain.

  • Cardiorespiratory Physio, specialising in heart and lung conditions including post surgery rehab.

  • Cancer Physio or Oncology Physiotherapy, including breast cancer Physiotherapy treatment, Pinc and Steel Physio, (a post graduate training in female and male cancers).

Patient working with her Physiotherapist on her stretching program
Patient working with her Physiotherapist on her stretching program

  • Women’s Health Physio, for pelvic, pelvic floor, are and post natal treatment.

  • Vestibular Physio, for dizziness, unsteadiness, or vertigo after a head injury or illness.

  • Posture Types Physio, specialising in postural conditions such as scoliosis and kyphosis, or Dowager’s Hump.

  • NDIS Physio, in Australia, (National Disability Insurance Scheme Physio), includes neurological conditions, (multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, brain injuires, Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy), amputees, rheumatoid and juvenile arthritis, autism, Asperger’s, intellectual disability.

NDIS Amputee Participant working on her Physio Pilates Exercise program
NDIS Amputee Participant working on her Physio Pilates Exercise program

  • Paediatric, or children’s only Physio.

  • Online or Virtual Physio. With the global pandemic of COVID-19, virtual Physiotherapists or online Physiotherapists have become a necessity. Typically these Physiotherapists are extremely good at verbal communication and have a high level of knowledge that allows them to fully explain your condition (instead of using manual therapy). Regardless of the pandemic, virtual Physiotherapy is an excellent option if you are unable to leave your home to go to a clinic, or if you live in a remote part of the world where Physiotherapy is hard to access. Exercise programs on an app are often utilised to assist patients with their home programs.

Screen shot from the app used for my Online Physiotherapy programs
Screen shot from the app used for my Online Physiotherapy programs

  • Mobile Physio, a Physiotherapist providing home visits, often utilised post surgery, or with chronic disabling conditions, so unable to drive to a clinic.

Active Physiotherapy types are exercise based, rather than passive Physiotherapy, which includes manipulation, mobilisations, massage and electrotherapy.

With most conditions regular, prescriptive exercise is necessary to get the best results.

With chronic pain Physiotherapy conditions exercise rehab rather than hands on treatment has been shown to give the best results.

With posture types Physiotherapy a program of stretches of tight muscles, strengthening of weak muscles, to rebalance posture, and posture education, with awareness of posture and how to correct, regularly and repeated, until it becomes natural.

Physiotherapy treatment for cancer patients, particularly breast physiotherapy, often includes some hands on treatment initially, exercise rehab introduced early and progressed towards independent exercise programs.

Physiotherapy Exercise Rehab programs may include strength training, Physio Pilates and Yoga Therapy.

Patient working with her Physiotherapist on her Physio Pilates Exercise Program on the Pilates Wunda Chair
Patient working with her Physiotherapist on her Physio Pilates Exercise Program on the Pilates Wunda Chair

These Physiotherapy types of treatment are generally longer appointment sessions of around one hour, with attention in a one on one or small group setting, with everyone following their own specific program, designed for their needs.

Usually a daily recommended home program is also recommended by the Physio, to bring about faster, larger changes.

With chronic pain and disabilities sessions are longer and often more frequent, including home practice of exercises. These programs are long term, rather than short the term, shorter sessions, with less frequent sessions, with standard Physiotherapy for acute conditions.

The Physio and patient, or participant build a strong relationship and work to achieve goals set together.

7 mistakes to avoid before choosing a Physiotherapist:

A poorly selected Physiotherapist may result in delayed or poor treatment outcomes, greater cost, and potential feelings of frustration in not achieving your goals.

Before you select the Best Physiotherapist for YOU note the 7 most common MISTAKES:

1/ Selecting a Physiotherapist just on convenience. Just because a Physiotherapist is located close by does not mean you will get the best match for YOU.

2/ Not doing any research. Before choosing your Physiotherapist GOOGLE them, find out more about their knowledge, experience, special skills and personality to see whether they are a good match.

3/ Not selecting a physiotherapist niched in your area of concern. All Physiotherapists have areas of special interest and heightened clinical skill. Search for the Physiotherapist that appears to be most closely aligned to what you need.

4/ Not asking your friends. There is nothing like confirmation that your selected Physiotherapist has a good reputation to bolster your confidence in your choice (or otherwise!). One increasingly common way of selecting a health practitioner is posting a Facebook post along the lines of ‘does anyone know of a good Physio for …..?’

5/ Choosing on price. It’s no secret that Physiotherapy is a professional service – it’s not cheap. Like almost any product or service the cheapest is rarely the best quality.

6/ Not checking to see if the Physiotherapist is registered with the Australian Physiotherapy Association.

7/ Failing to clarify your expectations before treatment begins. Unmet expectations will serve as the root course of disappointment with any treatment be sure to clarify your expectations with the Physio you select before you begin the treatment process.

In summary do your homework in order to heighten your chances of choosing the best Physiotherapist to work with.

Emma Najman, NDIS, Cancer Rehab & Chronic Pain Physiotherapist, Pilates Instructor & Yoga Therapist
Emma Najman, NDIS, Cancer Rehab & Chronic Pain Physiotherapist, Pilates Instructor & Yoga Therapist

The Best Physiotherapist for YOU is the one that is knowledgeable about your condition, experienced, takes time to set exciting goals together, available to discuss your concerns and support you, communicates effectively, and you can trust will navigate your journey with you and support you to reach your destination.

Need help to GET YOU STARTED?

Unsure where to start? JOIN our support group TODAY:

I’d love to offer you a FREE phone call to discuss your injury/condition and see whether I am the best Physiotherapist for YOU.

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