What is Rehabilitation?

WHO defines rehabilitation as “a set of interventions designed to optimize functioning and reduce disability in individuals with health conditions in interaction with their environment”. Rehabilitation helps an individual to be as independent as possible in daily activities and allows participation in education, work, recreation and meaningful life roles such as taking care of the family. It involves identification of the individual’s health condition, impairments, activity limitation and participation restriction, relating them to the relevant personal and environmental factors, defining rehabilitation goals, planning and implementing the interventions and management and lastly assessing the effects.


Rehabilitation is highly person-centered, meaning that the interventions and approach selected for each individual depends on their goals and preferences. Rehabilitation can be provided in many different settings, from in-patient or out-patient hospital settings to private clinics, or community settings such as an individual’s home. The rehabilitation workforce consists of different health professionals, including physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, orthotists and prosthetists, and physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors.

What is physiotherapist and their roles?

Physiotherapist is also known as physical therapist. Majority of the people may believe that physiotherapists mainly work with patients with musculoskeletal or sports-related injuries, but that’s not true! Physiotherapists are healthcare professionals who promote recovery in illness, injury or disability. They provide treatment for people with different health conditions associated with different systems of the body, such as neurological (stroke, Parkinson’s, motor neuron disease), cardiovascular (chronic heart disease, post-cardiac surgery, myocardial infarction), respiratory (asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis) and musculoskeletal (back pain, arthritis, fracture, sports-related injuries). Physiotherapists help to improve a person’s quality of life by using a variety of treatments to relieve pain, improve mobility and strength, regain independence as well as prevent complications.


Physiotherapists work as part of a multidisciplinary team in various settings, including hospitals, community health centres or clinics, sports teams, gymnasium, nursing home and rehabilitation centres. Physiotherapists are specialized in specific clinical areas, which include:

• Musculoskeletal / Orthopedic
• Cardiovascular
• Respiratory
• Neurological
• Geriatric
• Pediatric
• Women’s / Men’s Health
• Sports
• Palliative Care

Physiotherapy Treatments

Depending on the specific problems and goals, the physiotherapist will plan and provide appropriate management and intervention. These include:


• Therapeutic exercises (eg: stretching, mobilizing, strengthening exercise)
• Functional training
• Manual therapy techniques (eg: soft tissue manipulation, joint mobilization, massage)
• Assistive and adaptive devices (eg: crutches, walker, wheelchair)
• Physical agents, such as cold and heat
• Electrotherapeutic modalities like ultrasound (US), transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), shockwave therapy, infrared ray therapy (IRR)
• Postural training
• Gait training
• Breathing exercise (eg: abdominal breathing, pursed-lip breathing, incentive spirometer)
• Lung clearance techniques (eg: suctioning, forced expiratory technique, postural drainage)
• Balance exercise
• Coordination exercise
• Pelvic floor muscle training
• Hydrotherapy
• Patient and family education

Why Is Physiotherapy Important?

Most of the patients who approach or are referred to a physiotherapist are suffering from pain or discomfort. A course of treatment will, in most cases, relieve or eradicate completely that pain and, if continued, prevent a reoccurrence. Below are a few reasons why physiotherapy is important!

• Help to manage various medical conditions such as heart and lung disease, diabetes and vascular conditions through targeted exercises that improve breathing and control blood sugar levels, as well as advice on health care.

• Recovery from strokes and injuries through strengthening exercises that improve weaknesses and prevent other complications.

• Improve balance by better co-ordination and reduced dizziness in order to reduce fall risk among the elderly population.

• Increase mobility through stretching and strengthening exercises as well as the provision of correct supportive devices.

• Avoiding surgery by encouraging the healing process; if surgery cannot be avoided, the patient will be stronger and recover more quickly if physiotherapy treatment is undertaken prior to the operation and pre-operation education will also be given.

• Managing age-related conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis.


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