what is a physiotherapist?

As a physiotherapist, you apply various techniques to treat injuries, disorders and diseases. Unlike a doctor, who administers medicines, you use physical methods to achieve your goals. Techniques include exercise, massage and manipulation. You aim to improve a person's quality of life after an injury or disease. The techniques can sometimes restore movement, but a physiotherapist helps ease the pain and physical restriction caused by permanent injuries.

what does a physiotherapist do?

Aside from working in hospitals, a physiotherapist also assists athletes and sportspeople by helping them through injuries. Sometimes, you work in industries like mining and manufacturing to treat work-related conditions. Physiotherapy is crucial for people of all ages with various health conditions. For instance, you can help people with back, neck or shoulder pain to find ways to reduce the pain or exercise to improve the condition.

Physiotherapists assist patients with chronic illnesses and mobility problems. People with multiple sclerosis or stroke-related impairments need assistance to restore mobility. You help patients who have had a heart attack with rehabilitation and advise on exercises to reduce the chances of reoccurrence.

Aside from physiotherapy skills, you advise your patients on daily activities and habits that can strengthen their bodies and minimise the chance of injuries. Hence, you require good communication skills to relay information. It would be best if you also had empathy and compassion to understand the circumstances of your patients and assist them with their conditions.

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average physiotherapist salary

The average salary of a physiotherapist in New Zealand is $88,000 per year. In an entry-level position, your starting salary is $58,000 annually. With improved skills and qualifications, you are likely to earn $100,000 yearly. The remuneration package depends on the experience and responsibilities involved in the role.

As a physiotherapist, your remuneration will depend on where you work. If you work in a private hospital, you are likely to earn more than physiotherapists in a public hospital. Working for a sports or fitness centre may make more since you handle specialised cases.

The hours you work also determine your remuneration. In full-time positions, you earn more due to the responsibilities involved. You take on more shifts and overtime in full-time positions, unlike part-time roles with fewer work hours.

Your skills and qualifications determine the remuneration you receive. Having additional experience or extra qualifications and specialisation increases your salary prospects.

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types of physiotherapists

Some of the types of physiotherapists include:

  • musculoskeletal physiotherapists: as a musculoskeletal physiotherapist, you specialise in treating back pains, arthritis, sprains or injuries related to muscles and bones. Physiotherapists in this field cover various sports and workplace injuries or reduced mobility issues. The rehabilitation you implement aims to restore balance and motion in injured joints and muscles.
  • neurological physiotherapists: as a neurological physiotherapist, you apply various techniques to minimise the effect of disorders in the nervous system. You deal with spinal injuries, stroke, brain injury or multiple sclerosis in patients. You can also rehabilitate patients after brain surgery. Your role is to prevent further physical deterioration and improve the quality of life for patients with long-term neurological conditions.
  • cardiothoracic physiotherapist: as a cardiothoracic physiotherapist, you assist in rehabilitating patients after a heart attack and improving their quality of life. You also help them exercise to clear infections in the chest and restore balance.

working as a physiotherapist

Working as a physiotherapist involves helping people with injuries and health-related issues. If you are interested in the role, read on to find out more about the daily responsibilities and career prospects.

two males having a conversation
two males having a conversation

education and skills

To become a physiotherapist you need a Bachelor of Physiotherapy:

  • Physiotherapy degrees are available from Auckland University of Technology (AUT), University of Otago, and Wintec.
  • All courses take four years and consist of a first year studying health science then three years studying physiotherapy.

physiotherapist skills and competencies

Some of the qualities of physiotherapists include the following:

  • motor skills: as a physiotherapist, you work with patients and improve their balance and motor skills. It helps if you are physically fit since most sessions require strength and maximum precision during exercises.
  • communication skills: while your primary role is working with your hands to perform therapy techniques, it helps you be a good communicator. You explain the importance of each exercise and therapy technique. You also empathise with your patients and advise them on improving their quality of life.
  • observation skills: you require observation skills as a physiotherapist to gain valuable information about your patient. With your observation skills, you can evaluate the movement and behaviour of a patient.
  • organisational skills: as a physiotherapist, you keep track of appointments and personalise treatment sessions for each patient. Organisational skills help you maintain a schedule for appointments and update patient files.

FAQs about working as a physiotherapist

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a physiotherapist .

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