What is physiotherapy?
Physiotherapy mainly adopts physical agents or approaches to treat injuries and diseases, and promote recovery. The treatment agents or approaches include ultrasound therapy, interferential current, shortwave therapy, laser therapy, transcutaneous electrical stimulation, manual therapy, hot/cold therapy, exercise therapy, etc. In Hong Kong, physiotherapy is also called “Western bone-setter”.
Four main categories of physiotherapy treatment:
- Manual therapy: massage, Tui-na, acupressure, joint manipulation, etc
- Electrotherapy: magnetopulse, phototherapy, electrical current therapy, ultrasound therapy, etc
- Exercise therapy: hydrotherapy, physioball, muscle strengthening, stretching exercise, endurance training, functional training, etc.
- Preventive intervention: health education
Well-trained on both theoretical knowledge and clinical practice
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University is the only institute that provide physiotherapy course (Bachelor of Science) in Hong Kong. Physiotherapy students need to equip different knowledge related to various medical and physiotherapy aspects, including anatomy, physiology, pathology, traumatology, paediatrics, gerontology, intensive care, family and social medicine, ergonomics, exercise science, manual therapy, hydrotherapy, electrotherapy, etc. Furthermore, they have to pass all the examinations and clinical placement in different departments in hospitals prior to being awarded the Bachelor degree in physiotherapy and eligible to register as a physiotherapist recognized by Hong Kong government.
Differences between other similar treatment approaches
All registered physiotherapists are well-trained systematically in recognized universities. Therefore, only registered physiotherapist can practice and provide physiotherapy in Hong Kong. It is illegal if anyone does not have recognized qualification but claims himself/herself as a physiotherapist or providing physiotherapy. During treatment, physiotherapist would use manual therapy to manipulate the joints or soft tissues of the clients, it is quite similar to what masseurs, bone-setters or chiropractors do. But actually, manual therapy is just part of the treatment program in physiotherapy. Physiotherapists would use manual therapy to improve signs and symptoms and also restore normal alignment of joints. However, as a comprehensive treatment program, manual therapy must be applied together with other treatment, e.g. exercise therapy, electrotherapy, etc, in order to obtain the optimal treatment result.
In addition, physiotherapists have a broad foundation of knowledge in different aspects. It makes them capable to deal with a wide range of clinical conditions, such as degenerative disease, injuries, physical disabilities, psychosomatic problems, etc.
The main difference between physiotherapy and other similar treatment approaches such as bone-setting, massage therapy and chiropractics is that physiotherapy emphasizes on holistic treatment approach, especially concerns about preventive measures, instead of only treating where it hurts. Therefore, physiotherapists would spend a lot of time to communicate with the clients during treatment sessions in order to modify or adjust the treatment program which fits for the client's response and current condition.