Topic outline

  • Physiotherapy

    The physiotherapists work with the school staff to facilitate access to the school’s Physical Curriculum and promote 24 hour postural management. Movement is an essential tool in learning and our contribution is to make this as effective as possible. Each pupil has a physiotherapy assessment generating specific targets, which are regularly reviewed. These are identified in the physiotherapy programme and implemented in activities in the classroom and at home.

    Activity is key to development, improving muscle power and practised patterns of movement all help this to happen.  Physiotherapy can be preventative as well in maintaining joint range of movement and reducing the risk of contractures. The physiotherapists regularly work with children with respiratory problems to maintain good respiratory function.

    The physiotherapists work as a part of a multidisciplinary team and co-working must involve the parents/carers to ensure that a holistic approach is provided. Home visits are carried out as required. The physiotherapists participate in medical, wheelchair and orthotic clinics in school. They have close links with the professionals locally and regionally.

    Physiotherapy, known as physio for short, is a science-based form of healthcare which uses physical methods such as massage and manipulation of the body. It is used to help restore the body’s full range of movement after an injury as well as helping to promote general health and well-being, or treating parts of the body affected by an illness.

    It is most commonly used to help:
    sporting injuries
    post-surgery recovery
    Anyone can have physiotherapy, and it can take place in a number of different settings and locations. They include hospitals, outpatients clinics, homes, schools, hospices, workplaces and fitness centres.

    Physiotherapy dates back around five thousand years. It was first developed by physicians such as Hippocrates in Ancient Greece. In the 18th century orthopaedics was developed, with the invention of machines to help exercise joints. In the early 1900s many countries launched their own physiotherapy institutes and societies. From the 1950s onwards physiotherapy was practised outside of hospitals.
    What happens during a session?
    In the first session you will meet the physiotherapist and talk about what results you are looking for. The physiotherapist will also require a detailed medical history of your child, highlighting any underlying health problems or injuries.
    The physiotherapist will then begin to examine the appropriate areas of the body. You may be required to remove some clothes in order for them to do this. However, you should always feel comfortable.
    After the examination the physiotherapist will suggest the course of treatment they plan to administer, what they will do and why, and how many sessions will be required. When treating an illness, the physiotherapist may advise on how to minimise the effect of the illness on daily life, or in the case of injuries how to prevent it from recurring.
    The physiotherapist will use a number of different techniques, depending on the problem they are dealing with. They include:
    Manipulation and massage– using the hands to help relieve pain and stiffness in the muscles, manipulating the body’s soft tissues using the hands. This improves circulation, helps drain fluid, promotes movement and can relieve pain.
    Hydrotherapy (water therapy) – this is carried out in the shallow end of a swimming pool or in a special hydrotherapy bath. The resistance of the water pushes against the body as you exercise. This improves circulation, relieves pain and is relaxing.
    Exercise programmes – taking into account health levels, injuries. The physiotherapies may incorporate specific exercises to help with a particular problem, or a more general recovery plan. For example, your child  will be advised to do walking or swimming to help with general mobility and recovery, or given a specific exercise to help heal a specific muscle. The exercises often need to be repeated several times a day.

    Electrotherapy – uses small electric currents to make muscles contract. It does not hurt, but the sensation is often described as feeling ‘tingly’. There are several different kinds of electrotherapy. 
    TENS – transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation sends an electrical current to stop the nerves sending pain signals to the brain, and instead encourage endorphins (natural pain killing hormones) to be released.
    Ultrasound – high frequency sound waves treat deep tissues by promoting blood circulation. 
    Laser therapy – narrow beams of light which help reduce pain and muscle spasms. Not suitable for during pregnancy, for cancer patients or those taking certain kinds of medication.
    Shortwave diathermy – an electromagnetic field which generates heat in the body’s tissue. This can help reduce swelling, strengthen tissue and reduce pain.
    Acupuncture – inserting needles just below the skin on certain pressure points. This can help relieve pain.
    Pilates – the gentle movement and stretching of Pilates can sometimes be incorporated into exercise programmes as part of the treatment.
     The physiotherapist may also do some diagnostic tests to assess  strengths and weaknesses to better evaluate the condition.
    Many people think that physiotherapy will be painful. This is not the case. Occasionally your child  may experience a brief amount of pain as the physiotherapist assesses them and tests pain boundaries, but they are aware of what will cause pain. Any discomfort will be part of the healing process.
    Physiotherapy is often associated with sports injuries and treating athletes. However, it’s uses extent far beyond the sports field, and can be used by everyone, for a variety of conditions.
    Physiotherapists are not personal trainers or fitness advisors, and physiotherapy is not simply a massage or exercise.
    What training and qualifications does a physiotherapist need?
    Anyone in the UK wishing to practice as a physiotherapist is required by law to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

    Any information about therapies on this website  is provided for general information purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for advice given by your GP or any other healthcare professional. Whilst some people have benefited from complementary and alternative therapies, no claims can be made to treat, cure or heal, and we strongly advise individuals with any health problem to seek independent medical advice from their GP before considering complementary or alternative medicine or treatment.