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Physiotherapy – Helping People with a Disability to Achieve Goals

We chat with Trish Hill, Physiotherapist, about how physiotherapy supports people with a disability to achieve their goals. Trish is a passionate physiotherapist with extensive experience in Paediatrics.

What is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy helps to assess, treat and prevent a wide range of health conditions and movement disorders.

Physiotherapists work with people of all ages who need support to improve their strength, movement and flexibility so they can achieve their goals. We work as part of a person’s therapy team to provide physiotherapy to meet the person’s needs and those of their family members and carers.

How can Physiotherapy Help Someone with a Disability?

It can be a common misconception that physiotherapy is useful only to people recovering from an illness or injury. However, physiotherapy is ideal for supporting people with disabilities to participate in physical activities that they’re interested in.

The NDIS brings an opportunity for physiotherapists to support people with non-physical conditions. For example, people diagnosed with Autism or psychosocial or intellectual disabilities can benefit from physiotherapy.  The possibilities are endless, but supporting a child with autism to ride a bike, for example, can positively impact their ability to socialise, make friends and set up healthy exercise practices for life.

Another example is that supporting a person with an intellectual disability to access the local gym or community sports programme may mean they can meet the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of 150 mins of moderate physical activity per week. This then improves their health while enabling them to make friends and increase their safety as people in their local community get to know and look out for them.

How do you Support a Person with a Disability?

The support I provide depends very much on the goals they want to achieve, their personal circumstances and their support network.

Some ways I might support a person with a disability include:

  • Conducting a physiotherapy assessment to determine how someone moves around their home and community daily. This includes assessments of how their body functions, such as the strength of muscles, joint movement, endurance or fitness and balance. I can make recommendations that make moving around at home and in their local community easier.
  • Prescribing mobility equipment to help people stand, walk or move around more easily or independently within their home, school or local community. This can be anything from a walking stick to a highly specialised walking frame or wheelchair.
  • Tailoring exercises help to someone’s mobility, skill level, muscle strength, flexibility, and fitness so that they can achieve their goals.
  • Supporting people with disabilities to access sports, or recreation opportunities in the community, such as team sports, PE lessons at school, local community classes or gym programs to increase social participation, physical health and well-being.

What Types of Conditions do you Treat?

I support people of all ages with physical conditions like Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis or lifelong injuries such as Spinal Cord Injury or Acquired Brain Injury. I also work with people with activity restrictions caused by intellectual or psychosocial disability or Autism.

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