Chartered physiotherapists, commonly known as “physios,” are health care professionals who specialise in maximising a person’s well-being and function. They are the British equivalent of a physical therapist.
What is a Chartered Physiotherapist?
Chartered physiotherapists work with people after injury, accident or surgery to decrease pain and improve movement, function and potential. They also are involved in the prevention of injury; for instance, they may assess and alter a workplace setup.
Physiotherapists can be found working in a wide variety of settings such as hospitals, private practices, hospices, nursing homes, a persons own home, in the workplace, in sports clubs and gyms and on the internet.
The equivalent of a physiotherapist in America is a physical therapist. The title “physiotherapist” is used in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and many other parts of the English speaking world.
Training to be a Chartered Physiotherapist in Great Britain
The profession of physiotherapy in Britain is regulated by the Health Professions Council. In July 2005 a law was passed protecting the title “physiotherapist” and “physical therapist.” This means it is illegal, in the United Kingdom, for a person to call themselves a physiotherapist or physical therapist unless they have done a validated training course and are registered with the Health Professions Council.
Physiotherapists study for three years to gain a BSc in physiotherapy. This course is now offered at 27 universities across England and Wales. The Scottish universities offer a four year degree.
Some universities now also offer an accelerated two year course which is open to students who hold a previous degree in a relevant subject.
Physiotherapists may display the letters HPC after their name, this means they are registered with the Health Professions Council. Additionally they may use the letters MCSP meaning Member of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.
The Differences Between a Physiotherapist, Osteopath and Chiropractor
There are many similarities in the work that physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors do, all are aiming to assess and treat a persons health problems to restore maximum well being and function.
Osteopaths and chiropractors tend to treat mainly musculoskeletal conditions, these are disorders affecting muscle ligament and bone. Physios treat musculoskeletal conditions, but also are skilled in the managements off neurological problems (disorders of the nerves and brain – such as after stoke or head injury) and respiratory problems (difficulty with breathing).
Osteopaths and chiropractors tend to work in private practice. Physiotherapists are widely employed by the National Health Service and work in a variety of settings.
Some osteopaths and chiropractors take X-rays, physiotherapists do not. Some physiotherapists are licensed to prescribe certain medicines.
Osteopaths and chiropractors frequently use manipulative techniques. Physiotherapists do manipulate and mobilise joints, but are also likely to use exercise and perhaps acupuncture or an electrical machine alongside these techniques.