Physiotherapy – an important part of total health care

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Healthy Habits with Jane Claxton-Oldfield

A few weeks ago, I woke up with a sore arm. At first, I thought nothing of it - that it would simply go away on its own as innocently as it had appeared. Two weeks later, however, when it was still sore, I casually mentioned it to my family doctor during my annual exam. She suspected a ‘deltoid strain’ and referred me for physiotherapy. A few days later, I was in the office of our local physiotherapist - Greg Soper - and his very capable team, waiting for an assessment of my injury. It turns out that I required several visits to the clinic and during these visits, I watched several people come and go, all with various injuries and degrees of pain. I came to have a real appreciation of this service and the help it undoubtedly gives to thousands of people worldwide.

Our ‘physiological’ health, it turns out, is very easy to take for granted, that is, until we have a problem with it! Be it recovering from a simple sprain to learning how to walk again after a major trauma or surgery, physiotherapists are an indispensable part of our ‘health care team’. Because I was a frequent flyer (unfortunately there were no air milesJ) to Greg’s clinic, I had the opportunity to ask him some questions:

Q: What is the most common injury you see in the run of a day? 

A: Muscle strains and soft tissue sprains in various areas.

Q: What is the most common mistake people make with regard to their health from a physiotherapist’s point of view?

A: Posture is a big issue as it affects everything right from your feet to your neck.  It is very important to have good posture and balanced musculature.  That leads me to the next biggest issue: Imbalanced muscles.  Poor muscle control, balance and endurance will affect posture.  So it can be a vicious cycle. The third biggest issue is people waiting too long after an injury to have it looked at.  It is always easier to treat recent issues than long standing issues and we get better results.

Q: What is the biggest challenge in your work?

A: The biggest challenge for us is to keep our objectivity and not make decisions based on a feeling or a pre-conceived conclusion.  We have to let our tests dictate our differential diagnosis.

Q: What general advice would you offer to people?

A: Don’t be afraid to seek out some help or direction on an issue.  Again, it is always better and easier to clear up when it is acute, than when it becomes chronic.

Q: Anything else you’d like to say?

A: We have one of the best jobs in the world, we love what we do, we get joy from it each day, and it is a privilege to serve the people of our community.  We continue to strive to bring the most comprehensive and literature based therapy possible.

Thanks to Greg for answering my questions. So, to conclude, part of my healing process was not just the actual physical therapy that I received in the sessions, but also included the continually changing set of exercises that were put together specifically for my situation so that I could continue to help myself in between visits. I also received education about future prevention (in my case poor posture contributed to the problem). Hence, the whole experience served as a reminder of the importance and the need to take personal responsibility for our own health and the necessity of becoming partners with our therapists/caregivers (in whatever discipline we are receiving treatment).  And, lastly - although for me, it was equally as important as the physical treatment - I have to mention the ‘comfort care’ I received. It was such a refreshing and emotionally soothing aspect of the experience to be treated with respect and empathy by the whole team, from the front-desk staff to the physiotherapists and their assistants.  Every time I went, I was consistently greeted with smiles, care, and concern. This team certainly know how to deliver client-focused compassionate care (something that I think we can all agree on is extremely important when it comes to the healing journey – whichever road it takes us on).

In good health – until next time.

Jane Claxton-Oldfield MDN is an instructor for the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition If you want more information about physiotherapy contact the Canadian Physiotherapy Association’s website. Or, if you want to know more about Greg Soper’s services:

Organizations: Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, Canadian Physiotherapy Association

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