Indian Journal of Physical Therapy and Research

: 2019  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 69--70

Awareness of physiotherapy among other health professionals in India: Current scenario

Renu Pattanshetty1, Deepa C Metgud2,  
1 Department of Oncology Physiotherapy, KAHER, Institute of Physiotherapy, Belagavi, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Paediatric Physiotherapy, KAHER, Institute of Physiotherapy, Belagavi, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Deepa C Metgud
Department of Paediatric Physiotherapy, KAHER, Institute of Physiotherapy, Belagavi - 590 010, Karnataka

How to cite this article:
Pattanshetty R, Metgud DC. Awareness of physiotherapy among other health professionals in India: Current scenario.Indian J Phys Ther Res 2019;1:69-70

How to cite this URL:
Pattanshetty R, Metgud DC. Awareness of physiotherapy among other health professionals in India: Current scenario. Indian J Phys Ther Res [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Jul 9 ];1:69-70
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India is a vast subcontinent with great diversity in many aspects that include cultures, cuisines, attires, languages, and medical practices, to name a few. India is bestowed with various health-care systems such as Ayurveda, Unani, Homeopathy, Sidda, and Naturopathy that aim at imparting good health apart from modern medicine.

Physical therapy is one among the allied health-care system that aims to help the individuals in maintaining and restoring maximal physical functioning and health throughout life. Historically, physicians like Hippocrates and Galen, considered as the first practitioners of physical therapy, supported techniques which are widely used now, with excellent results.[1] History speaks of the application of physiotherapy even prior to World War I.[2]

In many settings including India and abroad, physical therapy services are given in conjunction with medical treatment and other therapies. With the completion of 67 years of physiotherapy profession or practice in India, it is disheartening to note that India still lacks a streamlined referral system as compared to the Western world. However, groundwork of the profession is majorly dependent on the awareness of referring physicians and their acceptance of it as an independent practicing profession. In the present era of the 21st century with technology reaching its pinnacle and its widespread applications in the field of physiotherapy including manufacturing of electro-therapeutic modalities and usage of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and robotics for the treatment of various disorders, it would be improper to say that medical health professionals are not aware of various physiotherapy treatments and its benefits. But, having said that, we still lack referrals from the physicians, surgeons, and other medical health professionals in India.

Though studies claim [1],[2],[3],[4] that general practitioners in India are aware of physiotherapy applications in musculoskeletal, pediatrics, neurological, cardio-respiratory, and sports conditions, the practitioners are less aware of recent advances in physiotherapy practice and its application in the field of women's health, cancer and geriatric conditions, and transplantation units to name a few. Exercise prescription for special populations such as those with cancer, geriatrics, and school-going children is less thought of in our country or not documented.[5] The role of physiotherapist in the prescription of orthotics and prosthetics is less thought off. The key role of physical therapist in intensive care unit setups and various phases of cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation in India is also not well understood. Even today, few consultants impose authority on prescription related to physiotherapy treatment that needs to be curbed with no delay. The decision-making regarding physiotherapy treatment should be left at the discretion of the physiotherapist considering their professional competency.

Besides the ill developed referral system in India, in most of the setups, the idea of practicing first-contact physiotherapy is also debateful as some medical practitioners believe that direct contact practice should not be encouraged for physiotherapists. Although practitioners have knowledge regarding the role of physiotherapy and the ability of therapist in the management of musculoskeletal conditions,[5],[6],[7],[8] there is differentiation in terms of inadequacy of referral systems for various health conditions.[9]

A referral letter from a medical practitioner for receiving physiotherapy services is often a common scenario in India. This speaks of lack of accurate information about the competence of physiotherapists among physicians that leads to underutilization of skills and resources of this potential profession, impeding the quality care of patient.[10] The knowledge about the scope of physiotherapy needs to be inculcated among medical practitioners during the course focusing on interdisciplinary team approach for complete patient care.[1],[10],[11] Considering the vital role of physiotherapy in health care, ignorance about complete scope of this profession points toward an urgent need for awareness programs and marketing strategies in this field, especially among the health-care providers.[1],[10],[12]

Physicians including general practitioners are well aware about the profession of physiotherapy and majority of them do admit physiotherapy as an autonomous profession and consider that physiotherapists are trained enough to determine the right treatment for their patients.[13] It is time that other health-care professionals including medical practitioners realize that the physiotherapy profession is shaped by scientific evidence with the groundwork of imparting education at undergraduate levels in various colleges and universities and competencies of the physiotherapists delivering the services during their internship and postgraduate training programs. In today's techno-savvy world, along with the inventions of newer medical and surgical options for patient care, it is time for all the health-care professionals to also realize that the profession of physiotherapy has reached newer heights wherein it is applicable to treat and rehabilitate innumerable aches, conditions, and syndromes.[14]

An effective awareness about the role of physiotherapists in health-care delivery will aid in decreasing the length of hospital stay, actuating an early recovery, and a smooth rehabilitation journey for an improved good quality of life. As stated by a renowned Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, “Awareness is like the sun, when it shines things are transformed.”


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