What is an Exercise Therapy ?
A regimen or plan of physical activities designed and prescribed for specific therapeutic goals is referred to as exercise therapy. Its purpose is to restore normal musculoskeletal function or to reduce pain caused by diseases or injuries.
A Physiotherapist is the most suitable person to consult for any exercise therapy related issue or to know the best suitable exercise for any injury/dysfunction.
In orthopaedic and sports related conditions, a physiotherapist design graded exercise programme to relieve pain, strengthen the muscles, increase the joint range of motion, improve the joint sense (proprioception) and balance and improve the flexibility of soft tissues (stretching exercises).
The physiotherapist may further work on sport specific proto-type activity designing which will incorporate speed, agility, power, endurance and plyometric exercise regimes which will help the athlete get back to the sporting activity. It is also the duty of physiotherapist to identify the abnormal biomechanical faults and work out an exercise regime to correct it.
Physiotherapist assists in cardiopulmonary conditions to enhance the aerobic conditioning and strength of patients suffering from lungs and cardiac problems which prevents death and disability from cardiovascular disease. Physiotherapist teaches exercises to increase the aerobic capacity (mainly breathing exercises) in pulmonary conditions and expiratory techniques to clear the chest during the acute phase of the disease. The physiotherapist should work on overall well being of a patient though generalised complete body low grade strengthening exercises.
A physiotherapist is able of evaluating the load a cardiac patient can tolerate and accordingly design an exercise protocol to gradually load the cardiac system. A patient can be completely rehabilitated after a heart surgery or pulmonary (lungs) surgeries.
For those already affected by cardiovascular disease, the expert advice provided by physical therapists can help bring a return to usual roles. Physiotherapists help people return to work, education, community participation and fulfilled lives.
In geriatric conditions exercises help regain strength, reduce age related stiffness in body, promote feeling of well being and reduce the risk of fall. Proprioception and balance exercises are of utmost importance in elderly people though it may not be as aggressively done as in young patients. Geriatric population can undergo community based rehabilitation programme where a group of elderly people can together perform the exercises designed to achieve the above goals.
Performing the exercises together enhances the capability through a feeling of competitiveness.
In neurological cases the physiotherapist helps assist the physiological movement in paralytic cases. The common exercises include passive movements, active-assisted movement, active and resisted movements. These movement exercises initially help to avoid the deconditioning of muscles and prevent joint mobility. Later as patient begins to perform the exercises the aim is to further load the muscles for additional strength. Various useful techniques like PNF, NDT, Bobath, etc can be implemented for correction of movement patterns and natural recovery of patient. These techniques are basically exercises designed scientifically and over period of research to facilitate movement and correct movement related disorders.
Paediatric physiotherapists treat children with neurological or developmental problems. The physiotherapist design recreational exercise programme that aims at maximizing potential and facilitate development, participation and independence. Emphasis is given to activities/exercises related to reaching specific milestones such as rolling, crawling and walking. Treatment is individualized, depending on the unique needs of each child and Family.