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Physiotherapy FAQ

What is physiotherapy?

The goal of physiotherapy is to optimize patient movement, function, and participation. This is achieved with the analysis, diagnosis and treatment of structural limitations, functional restrictions and environmental barriers. Treatment involves patient education, hands-on techniques, therapeutic exercise, and various modalities to attain patient goals.

What is the difference between physiotherapy and physical therapy?

There is no difference between the two. In Canada, both terms are used interchangeably. Physiotherapy is used more frequently in Great Britain and Australia, Physical Therapy is more commonly used in the United States.

What training does a Physiotherapist require?

Canadian-trained Physiotherapists are now required to complete a four-year Bachelor program, followed by a Master’s degree in Physiotherapy from an accredited school. Upon completion of the Master’s program, individuals are required to pass both a written and a practical exam set by the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators. Proof of passing the exam is required by each College (regulatory body) in Canada. Once this proof is provided, and registration with the College is complete, the individual may practice as a Physiotherapist within the province/territory in which they are registered. In the Northwest Territories, there is no College of Physiotherapists; all Therapists should hold registration in another province or territory. If you have concerns regarding the status of a Therapist, please check with their College.

What can I expect from my first visit with a Physiotherapist?

During the initial visit, the Therapist will ask you a variety of questions including: reason for seeking physiotherapy treatment, pain, previous injuries, medical history, medical tests, medications, job demands, hobbies, physical activity, and goals for treatment. After this information is taken, the Therapist will then examine the injured body part. This may involve movement analysis, strength testing, testing of specific structures (ligaments, muscles, nerves), palpation of the region, and joint testing. After the assessment is completed, the therapist will provide you with information regarding your condition/injury, as well as a few exercises. Depending on how you feel near the end of the visit, the therapist may offer you a modality for pain relief (e.g. TENS/IFC, acupuncture, manual stretching/joint mobilizations). It is normal to feel sore for a day or two after the initial assessment, as the Therapist has placed stress on the injured structures.

How long will I need to continue with physiotherapy?

This requires communication between you, and your therapist. At the initial assessment, your Therapist will give you an approximate timeline as to how long and how often they would like to see you. The speed of your recovery depends on a variety of factors, including: your specific condition/injury, how diligent you are with your exercises, your work/life demands, age, as well as other medical conditions. Your goals for your condition/injury will also determine how long you will need to attend physiotherapy. For example, a 35 year old male with a sprained ankle, who wants to return to squash may need more treatment time than a 35 year old male who wants to return to cycling.

Please ask your Therapist if you have any concerns regarding the speed of your recovery.

Is physiotherapy covered?

Physiotherapy is covered by most extended health care plans, some plans require a physician’s referral. Please check with your health plan to see what your coverage is. The NWT Health Care Plan only covers physiotherapy services offered out of licensed facilities (hospitals). Please check the NWT Health Care Plan website for more details.

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