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How Physiotherapy Contributes to a Stronger Health Care System in Canada

When you think of physiotherapy, your mind probably conjures up an image of reducing lower back or helping people regain mobility after a broken leg.

While physiotherapy is key to addressing these issues, the practice itself addresses so much more.

In fact, experts are starting to realize just how much physiotherapy contributes to a stronger health care system in Canada.

Not only does physiotherapy offer effective treatment options but it also helps lighten the burden on Canada’s health care system by preventing hospitalization and promoting health amongst the population.

Let’s take a closer look at how physiotherapy as a primary health care service works in Canada:

Physiotherapy in Canada

Physiotherapy is a key part of all sectors of health care in Canada, from the promotion of health to rehabilitation. 

The scope of practice for physiotherapists and physical therapists varies from province to province, giving therapists responsibility for developing the scope of practice for their region.

However, in all provinces, these health care professionals are given the authority to assess physical function as well as neurological, cardiorespiratory, and musculoskeletal systems.

With the burden of chronic disease rising in Canada, especially due to the aging population, physiotherapists have an increasingly important role in promoting active lifestyles and rehabilitation.

In Canada, physical therapy has become effective in all areas of practice including home-based services, intensive care units, and emergency departments because of its ability to address conditions such as chronic lung disease, lower back pain, musculoskeletal conditions, and chronic disease.

Overall, physiotherapy can increase quality of life, improve health outcomes, and decrease hospital lengths. Therefore, they can contribute to creating a more efficient health care system by focusing on primary care, injury prevention, and rehabilitation.

Health Promotion and Prevention

More than half of Canadians live with a chronic illness and this places enormous pressure on the health care system. Many chronic diseases can be avoided and their symptoms lessened by the increase in improved physical activity and reduced sedentary behavior.

Physiotherapy also addresses the concern of health issues when it comes to seniors and daily living.

By 2036, the number of seniors in Canada is expected to rise to over 10 million and make up around one-quarter of the population by 2050. 

It’s no surprise that seniors are the most frequent and intense users of the health care system, which more than 3 out of 4 having at least one chronic condition. Because they suffer from more chronic conditions, they take more prescription and over-the-counter medications than any other age group and require ongoing treatment and management.

When it comes to healthy aging, the focus is on developing and maintaining functional abilities. Physiotherapy is one such service that can help seniors increase their well-being and encourage a healthy and active lifestyle. 

Where Can You Find Physiotherapists?

Apart from working in private practice, you can find these health care providers throughout Canada’s health care system:

Home-Based Services

Home-based physiotherapy services provide assessment and treatment for individuals in their homes for a variety of conditions including stroke and heart failure, Parkinson’s disease, and recovery from surgery.

The benefits of home-based physiotherapy services include an improvement in overall physical well-being as well as a decrease in feelings of social isolation. It also reduces the rate of rehospitalizations and the future use of health care services.

Intensive Care Units

In intensive care units, physiotherapists can focus on the early mobility of critically ill patients and the respiratory management of ventilator-dependent patients. They can assess and manage a variety of patient complications affecting the musculoskeletal, cardiorespiratory, and neurological systems.

Physiotherapists are often members of a multidisciplinary team that assist with patient positioning and mobilization. They focus on exercises that strengthen muscles, increase balance, and increase a patient’s range of motion.

Emergency Departments

Physiotherapists can also work in emergency departments, assessing the mobility and function of patients. They assess, diagnose, triage, and manage patients with musculoskeletal injuries as well as senior patients with reduced functionality.

They also improve the continuation of care by assisting with referrals and discharge plans. Their involvement in emergency departments has been shown to improve pain control, reduce short-term disability, and decrease hospital length of stay as well as wait times.

Areas of Physiotherapy Practice in Canada

Physiotherapy is effective in addressing a range of health issues:

Chronic Diseases

Physiotherapy is effective in preventing, treating, and managing chronic diseases such as COPD, Type 2 Diabetes, and obesity.

This is because physical therapists make significant contributions to self-management interventions where patients are taught how to modify their behaviors in order to address their condition.

Cardiovascular Rehabilitation

Cardiac rehabilitation is a team-based intervention that includes physical, psychosocial, and individualized exercise programs to help the patient’s outcome following a cardiac event. 

Physical therapy for cardiac rehabilitation has been proven effective in decreasing cardiovascular mortality and improving the quality of life for those with coronary heart disease. Cardiovascular exercise can also benefit stroke survivors by improving aerobic capacity and walking distance.

Neurological Conditions

Physiotherapy has been shown to be beneficial to individuals with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and schizophrenia. 

Because the prevalence of neurological conditions increases with age, as the population ages, the number of individuals facing the challenges of these conditions is expected to rise. With physiotherapy intervention, individuals are less likely to require hospitalization or additional health care.

Musculoskeletal Conditions

Musculoskeletal conditions refer to a broad range of disorders that affect the bones, joints, and connective tissue. These conditions include arthritis and osteoporosis.

Physiotherapy can help to reduce and even eliminate pain, muscle weakness, and loss of stability through assessment and treatment – and can be used as an alternative to pain medication. 

Physiotherapy: Supporting Canada’s Health Care System

Physiotherapy reduces disability, promotes recovery from injury, and reduces the risk of re-injury. It can also be helpful in enabling the early detection of acute events.

Overall, physical therapy is an integral part of interdisciplinary teams that provide intermediate care to obtain a favourable outcome for each patient. 

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Physical Therapy and the Road to Recovery

What do you do when you experience an illness or injury that impacts your ability to move and live your day-to-day life?

With so many medical advances, it’s easy to reach for a pill or prescription to help you overcome the pain. With physiotherapy, however, you can often address the root cause of your suffering and heal the underlying issues.

Physiotherapists focus on movement-related challenges and work with patients who suffer from all types of conditions and limitations. They use a holistic whole-body approach to address physical, emotional, psychological, and social needs.

More often than not, they work alongside other healthcare professionals, such as Occupational Therapists, to maximize treatment and ensure the patient’s road to recovery is expedient.

While Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists use unique approaches at different stages of a patient’s recovery, their goal is the same: To help individuals heal and rehabilitate so they can lead normal and independent lives.

Let’s look into more detail:

What is this this type of treatment? Will it work for me?

Physiotherapy is a treatment method that uses the science of movement to help people restore, maintain, and maximize their motion, strength, and function.

Physical therapists s use the latest evidence-based and natural approached to help reduce pain and promote overall well-being by addressing underlying physical issues.

By using a variety of methods, physical therapy promotes the fast and optimal repair of the body in order to improve the patient’s quality of life.

Depending on the reason for needing care, treatment may include functional training, massage, taping, joint mobilization, and stretching. It can also address self-management strategies such as goal setting and lifestyle advice.

There are multiple forms designed to individualize care and achieve better movement and function, such as:

  • Pediatric
  • Female-Centric
  • Geriatric
  • Neurological
  • Cardio-Respiratory
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Sports
  • Vestibular Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation and Pain Management

At the forefront of this treatment are the Physiotherapists who use their in-depth knowledge of how the body works to use hands-on skills to assess, diagnose, and treat the symptoms of illness, injury, and disability.

Their role involves implementing treatment plans as well as educating their patients, their families, and their community in ways to prevent injuries and facilitate healing.

A physical therapist can treat a wide spectrum of individuals including children with developmental challenges, pregnant women, premature babies, the elderly, athletes, individuals requiring physical rehabilitation, and those needing support following heart disease, stroke, or major surgery.

Physio and Occupational Therapy: Is There a Huge Difference?

While most individuals believe that they must choose between physiotherapy and occupational therapy, the truth is that, despite the differences between the two, both therapies can be used together to promote healing and a return to independence.

Physiotherapy focuses on improving movement, mobility, and function while Occupational Therapy (OT) addresses the performance of daily tasks.

For example, an individual recovering from a stroke may require physical therapy to regain mobility so they can get out of bed, stand, and walk. An Occupational Therapist can then help them relearn how to perform daily tasks such as getting dressed and eating with utensils.

Overall, the purpose of both treatments therapy is to improve the overall functioning, quality of life, and knowledge so that patients can maintain their health and well-being.

When it comes to which therapy is more appropriate for a patient’s unique situation, there is considerable overlap when it comes to the health conditions that both therapies can address. In these cases, one is just as beneficial as the other.

Both therapies provide hands-on care that is tailored to the patient’s needs. Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists also set goals and assess progress on the road to recovery.

The Main Benefits of Physio Treatment

Physio is designed to assist people of all ages, whether they are suffering from injuries, illnesses, or medical conditions limiting their capability to move and function properly.

It encourages activities and lifestyle changes that can improve a patient’s overall well-being as well as prevent further injury.

When a patient is experiencing a physical problem or challenge, physiotherapy is usually the first course of action.

Here are some of the main benefits of seeking treatment:

  • Avoid Surgery to help heal injuries before they require surgery. It can also help strengthen the affected area and promote a faster recovery if surgery is needed.
  • Reduce and Eliminate Pain by using a variety of techniques and exercises that can help alleviate pain and restore movement and function.
  • Recovery from Sports-Related Injuries since physical therapists are educated in the science of movement and the human body, they can design appropriate recovery plans or prevention exercise programs for those engaged in sports activities.
  • Improve Mobility because physiotherapists can design unique care plans to help individuals improve their range of movement.
  • Age-Related Issues to assist older adults are at a higher risk of facing mobility problems caused by factors such as joint-related issues. A physiotherapist can help individuals manage age-related conditions.
  • Women’s Health Improvement is possible when focused on the specific management of pregnancy, post-partum care, breast cancer, pelvic pain, and fibromyalgia.

It is typically recommended to seek out a physical therapist if you are suffering from an injury or an injury caused by underlying factors. Seeking treatment can help reduce your pain and increase your mobility while ensuring that the injury does not happen again.

Some common injuries that require physiotherapy include work-related injuries, sports injuries, and joint and muscle sprains. Physiotherapy can also help address headaches, lower back and neck pain, vertigo, plantar fasciitis, and tendinosis as well as help with post-operative rehabilitation.

The Road to Recovery

The overall goal of physiotherapy is to improve your quality of life! Who wouldn’t benefit from that?

If you find that your life is restricted due to pain or mobility issues, you should speak to your medical practitioner about being referred to a physiotherapist. You and the physical therapist can strategize a treatment plan to help you heal your body and get back to living your life! Don’t hesitate to speak with a local physical therapist regarding your treatment options.

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Understanding Occupational Therapy and Its Benefits

The word “occupation” means more than a person’s job or career – it refers to all activities that individuals occupy for leisure and work, both meaningful and mundane.

Occupational science is the study of human participation and looks at the ways in which participation can be measured in order to develop effective methods of intervention. It also examines how the impact of participation can affect an individual’s health and well-being.

Therefore, occupational therapy is a client-centered health profession that focuses on promoting the health and well-being of individuals who struggle to participate in the activities of everyday life.

Keep reading to find out what occupational therapy is and how it can benefit individuals of all ages and walks of life:

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy is a form of health care that addresses issues with a person’s ability to function day-to-day, such as dressing themselves, going to work, and participating in social activities.

It’s the only profession that helps people of all ages to do the things they need to do by promoting health and preventing injury, illness, or disability.

Common interventions include helping children participate in school, aiding those in recovery from injury, and providing support to the elderly experiencing physical and cognitive changes.

Examples of Occupational Therapy Techniques

Occupational therapy techniques involve using meaningful and purposeful activities relevant to the patient to help them become more functional.

For example, an individual recovering from a stroke may seek occupational therapy to regain independence. This may involve using household tasks such as hanging up laundry to help rebuild upper body strength.

An occupational therapist may use something as simple as playdough to help a child strengthen weak hand muscles.

There are also many tools an occupational therapist can use to aid their patients including assistive technology such as grab bars for balancing and standing, kinesthetic chairs for posture, and weighted products (vests, blankets, etc.) to address anxiety and sleep issues.

Occupational Therapy for Adults

Adults of all ages and abilities can seek occupational therapy to address neurological and physical conditions such as:

  • Obesity
  • Stroke
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Concussion
  • Injury Rehabilitation
  • Aging

Occupational therapy can help adults with their mobility and seating, motor skills, cognitive abilities, home management, community living skills, and workplace skills.

Occupational Therapy for Kids

Occupational therapists also work with children to help them gain independence in their daily skills such as playing, printing, and socializing. They can help children acquire specific skills such as tying their shoes, using a fork, and kicking a ball.

This type of therapy can be done with babies, young children, and school-aged kids in a variety of settings such as the home or school. Occupational therapists work in collaboration with family, teachers, and other health professionals.

Occupational therapy can be particularly useful in helping and supporting kids with Autism, ADHD, birth injuries/defects, sensory processing disorder, and traumatic injuries to the brain and spinal cord.

What Do Occupational Therapists Do?

Occupational therapists, or OTs, work with people of all ages with a variety of tools and techniques in a variety of settings.

They may work in a classroom to help a child use a computer, in a hospital with patients who have just suffered a stroke, or working in outpatient programs with clients suffering mental illnesses.

OTs also assess clients in order to identify and purchase appropriate equipment, such as wheelchairs, to ensure clients can safely remain home – whether they have a condition such as multiple sclerosis or if they have suffered injury from a motor vehicle accident.

While OTs often work alongside physiotherapists, their roles are very different. While physiotherapists help patients restore physical function, occupational therapists focus on how that function affects their ability to live their day-to-day lives.

To become a registered occupational therapist, OTs require a Bachelor of Science degree or a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy as well as a minimum of 1,000 hours of supervised fieldwork (either through on-the-job training or a clinical practicum).

Following the completion of their education, occupational therapists must pass a certification exam and become a member of a council that is responsible for the regulation of occupational therapy.

What are the Benefits of Occupational Therapy?

Once upon a time, occupational therapy was predominantly used for people who suffered an injury and sought to return to work.

However, it has evolved into a beneficial treatment for those who wish to regain the ability to do everyday tasks, no matter the cause of their challenges.

Here are some of the benefits occupational therapy can offer:

1. Improves Physical Health

Occupational therapy can help patients increase their strength and endurance while improving their range of motion with the goal being to build upon their current abilities to alleviate the struggle of day-to-day tasks.

2. Decreases Pain

Sometimes the pain we feel in our bodies is not a direct result of an injury or condition. For example, when one muscle is weak, the opposite muscle tightens and causes pain.

Occupational therapy can help patients develop proper body positioning to improve movement and decrease pain.

3. Improves Independence

The primary focus of occupational therapy is to improve the individual’s self-care skills so they can complete personal tasks with as little assistance as possible.

Likewise, occupational therapy can be used to help patients gain meaningful employment by addressing movement restrictions as well as providing instruction on how to perform and modify work tasks.

4. Addresses Cognitive Function Deficits

Occupational therapy involves more than improving a person’s physical state. It can also address functional cognition by helping patients practice skills that require organization, attention, problem-solving, and reasoning.

5. Improves Sleep

Occupational therapy can help with sleep issues by addressing secondary conditions that may be affecting sleep quality as well as establishing sleep hygiene routines, managing fatigue and pain, and helping the patient modify their environment to promote sleep.

Occupational Therapy: Treatment and Prevention

Occupational therapy is not simply a form of healthcare used to treat and manage conditions – it can also be used to prevent complications before they become larger problems.

If you feel you could benefit from occupational therapist, speak to your medical practitioner about speak with a registered occupational therapist.

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How Youth Physio Can Help Your Child

Youth physio, also known as children’s or pediatric physiotherapy, is a specialized area of treatment focused on the unique needs of babies, children, and young adults. Youth

Pediatric Physiotherapists undergo additional training in order to meet the physical, mental, and education needs of children.

These Physiotherapists can assess and treat a wide range of childhood conditions including developmental, neurological, respiratory, and musculoskeletal difficulties. These conditions can result from illness, disability, or injury.

They work closely with parents, doctors, and teachers to gather as much information as possible to help identify areas that need improvement and determine a treatment plan and exercise activities most effective for the child.

Youth physio can involve a wide variety of different activities tailored to the child’s therapy goals. These include:

  • Movement and exercise
  • Respiratory care
  • Manual therapy
  • Splinting and orthotics
  • Hydrotherapy

Pediatric Physiotherapists work with children in a variety of environments including at home, in school, and in daycares. In some cases, children may need to have their physiotherapy carried out in a clinic or hospital.

What Can You Expect From Youth Physiotherapy?

When your child is first referred to youth physio, the Pediatric Physiotherapist will conduct an initial assessment to get to know your child as well as learn of any concerns or goals that you may have.

This is followed by a physical assessment to determine the best treatment plan for your child’s unique needs. At this point, the Physiotherapist may initiate a home exercise program and schedule your child for a follow-up visit to track progress.

The type of intervention will depend on the needs of your child and the Physiotherapist will teach you and your child’s caregivers who to help your child in the home, school, and other community settings.

If your child requires monitoring on a more regular basis, the Physiotherapist can train someone else to carry out the physiotherapy plan and keep in close contact with them throughout the duration of treatment.

Pediatric Physiotherapists will also consult with parents, caregivers, daycare staff, and school staff to address your child’s needs in each environment and provide everyone with a program to follow.

Collaboration and education are important parts of achieving maximum results.

When is Youth Physio Recommended?

If your child suffers a physical injury such as a sprain, pull, or concussion, they should always visit with a Physiotherapist to ensure the injury is completely healed.

Otherwise, there are certain pediatric conditions that can benefit from youth physio:


Children with autism can often have difficulties when it comes to fine and gross motor skills and sensory development. Youth physio can help a child with autism increase their motor skills, gain independence, and increase their participation in school and at home.

Cerebral Palsy

Depending on the degree of symptoms when it comes to posture and movement, youth physio can help children with cerebral palsy regain some strength, posture, and motor control. This can greatly expand the range of things they are capable of doing.

Down Syndrome

Physical symptoms of Down syndrome include loose ligaments, low muscle tone, and decreased strength. Physiotherapy can ensure that the child’s motor skills are developing and that their movement patterns are efficient and not putting extra strain on their bodies.

Developmental Delays

There are times when disease or injury are not the cause of motor skill development delays – your child may simply be missing their milestones. Physiotherapy can help your child improve their balance, strength, and motor skills.

Neuromuscular Disorders

Neuromuscular disorders, such as muscular dystrophy, can be addressed with physiotherapy. Physiotherapy can help maximize the child’s capability and quality of life during the course of the disease.

Spinal Cord Injury

Depending on the type of spinal cord injury, a child could end up facing paralysis, muscle weakness, breathing issues, and loss of bowel and bladder function. Depending on the severity of the injury, physiotherapy can help the child build muscle strength, increase mobility, and improve balance.

Brain Injury

Children who suffer from a traumatic brain injury or pediatric stroke often forget how to complete normal physical tasks. Physiotherapy can help rehabilitate those with brain injuries by helping them relearn the lost movements and skills.

What Are Some of the Benefits of Youth Physiotherapy?

1. It Ensures Adequate Healing

Although children heal faster than adults, the reduction of pain may create a perception that they are adequately healed before they truly are. This means that may return to sports or activities too early and increase the risk of re-injury.

Having your child see a physiotherapist can ensure that the injury is properly treated and that complete healing is verified before they resume their regular activities.

2. It Can Help Treat More Serious Conditions

Physiotherapy is not simply reserved for those who suffer an injury. It can also have a positive impact on children who live with more serious conditions such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, spina bifida, and other genetic conditions and neurodevelopment disorders (such as autism).

Youth physio can offer effective treatment plans to suit your child’s unique needs and extend the potential of their physical capabilities.

3. It Can Help Them Pay Attention in School

When it comes to childhood restlessness, there may be underlying issues that affect your child’s ability to sit still. The physical inactivity experienced during the school day can lead to discomfort which can, in turn, negatively impact cognitive performance and sleep.

As a treatment, youth physio can help your child return to a state of physical comfort and improve their classroom performance.

4. It Creates a Better Awareness of Their Physical Self

Youth physio can help your child learn about how their bones, muscles, tissues, tendons, and ligaments work together – this will give them the knowledge and skills to better identify when they are injured or sick.

They will also learn how to properly move their bodies when physically active to prevent injury and improve their performance.

Youth Physiotherapy Can Help Your Child

Whether your child is suffering an injury or facing a lifelong struggle with a physical or cognitive disorder, youth physio can help make significant improvements in your child’s life.

Speak with your medical practitioner or contact a registered Pediatric Physiotherapist for more information.

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