A Multi-Disciplinary Approach
Updated: Sep 3, 2021
This week I had an interesting and open discussion with my staff on the role both a Physiotherapist and Exercise Physiologist play within the allied health space. Firstly, both were asked to write a paragraph outlining what they believed their role consisted of and the role of their close counterpart. Both my first year Physiotherapist and 2nd year Exercise Physiologist wrote wonderful information of their professions although clearly outlined, in detail, the duties within their role and subsequently a brief description of their colleague. Both of my staff agreed that Physiotherapy had a major part in individual rehabilitation, yet the same platform was not provided for Exercise Physiology. Why?
Within the realms of rehabilitation and injury most of the population know when or if they need to see a Physiotherapist for the specific treatment required. Can we say the same about Exercise Physiology? Exercise Physiology has been around for some years now, although information of the profession is limited in the community. The allied health space between professionals will always have a ‘thin red line’ as to who a patient will see, what type of treatment is needed and who can provide the best outcome for these patients to return to their normal way of life. So, what is the best type of treatment and who should I see?
If you had recently experienced an injury, had a limitation of movement in a specific joint or unexplained increase in pain within the body, then who do you see? Majority of the community would see a Physiotherapist or another specialist dealing with acute injuries to improve the immediate issue - and they would be right.
Acute injuries should be seen by a Physiotherapist. Their role can be summarised as:
Physiotherapists: assisting people in acute, sub- acute and chronic stages of pain management. They are able to diagnose musculoskeletal complications through well selected assessments. Physiotherapists use their skills to treat patients through a combination of manual therapy techniques, education and exercise rehabilitation specifically targeting the regions of concern mainly working on increasing joint range of motion, balance and strength, with the goal of reducing pain and improving function in daily tasks. Specifically, a Physiotherapist is using joint mobilisation and soft tissue techniques to initially improve function and decrease pain.
So what does an Exercise Physiologist do?
Exercise Physiologists specialise in individualised exercise prescription for chronic disease prevention and management as well as musculoskeletal injuries. They work to emphasise and educate patients about the numerous benefits that different types of exercise provides in the treatment for conditions related to cardiac, metabolic, respiratory, cancer, neurological, mental health, and chronic pain management. Increasing an individual’s functional capacity and education for continual decrease of current symptoms as well as increasing function is a primary goal in this treatment space.
Ok, some light is now given to distinguish between the two professions! Next problem. So, I have received an injury or need some initial education. I continued to visit my Physiotherapist and don’t see the need or want to change to someone else. Am I wrong? Do I have to? The answer to that is simple, NO. Both of these professionals are educated to treat very similar conditions but have a very specific understanding on what applications should be provided and if the required treatment is outside of their scope.
Well how do I know?
A professional in an area of allied health will know if they need to refer on or continue working with an individual for the required outcomes. If not, you will either see one of two things: 1) on-going issues with the service provided and limited outcomes or 2) a continued hole being burnt in your pocket.
Over the past 5 years I have had the vision and goal to build a business that offers some of the best support the Sunshine Coast can offer to the community. Having a multi- disciplinary team that works within their scope of practice, provides educational dialogue to one another for positive client outcomes and can refer to one another when needed. When you are faced with injury, new disease diagnosis or upcoming surgery most individuals want to know that they will have the best path and most effective (and efficient!) treatment to get them back on their feet as soon as possible.
What comes first? Any individual requiring treatment should be well informed on what they specifically require and what their rehabilitation path will entail. Without this, patients fall between the gap and can lose faith in the process and the professionals that seek to help them. Within our business, we have taken extraordinary measures to ensure we provide support, education and ensure our clients can return to the best possible quality of life as soon as possible. The sharing of information and education on conditions occurs on a daily basis, not only within our clinic but even further to include other medical professionals referring clients, ensuring they start the correct pathway for optimal rehabilitation.
There is and always will be scepticism from some professionals in the industry believing they are the ‘be all, end all’ of treatment. Most professionals in the 21st century have an area of interest in which they apply themselves predominantly or will further their knowledge base to provide to most current treatment methods. If you are questioning your current treatment or would like more information on to how and why a multi-disciplinary approach can benefit you, call our reception staff and one of our Allied Health Professionals would be more than happy to speak with you and provide further information.
Physiotherapy versus Exercise Physiology? Or perhaps we are looking at it all wrong – We believe it is more a question as to which professional can provide me the best treatment and know why you are receiving it.