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Physiotherapy should be routine care for many Australians

Photo: Health Times
Physiotherapists play a vital recovery role in many of life’s common and inevitable health challenges, yet remain undervalued and underfunded, according to the Australian Physiotherapy Association.

Residents in aged care facilities is just one group of individuals the APA believes should have access to high quality physiotherapy services.

APA President Phil Calvert said the Government needed to invest in training to ensure staff could deal with complex care needs and afford residents dignity and respect.

“Unfortunately, funding has incentivised keeping the elderly sick and on medication rather than providing rehabilitation and wellbeing programs,” he said.

“There are thousands of physiotherapists providing much needed care in residential aged care homes.

“They tell me of their despair at being prevented them from delivering the holistic care that ageing Australians need.”
Pregnant women is another large demographic who should have access to physiotherapy as a matter of routine, according to the APA, who last year called for women’s health physiotherapists to be included in the care teams for all Australian pregnant women.

Doing so would reduce the risk of complications and improve outcomes for both women and babies, the APA says.

Currently in Australia, access to obstetric physiotherapy care is only available to women in some regions, meaning thousands of women every year are missing out on individualised care to help support them and their recovery after birth.

Cath Willis, chair of the APA Women’s, Men’s and Pelvic Health group, said women’s health physiotherapists could help women cope with the rapid changes associated with pregnancy.

This is particularly the case for twin and triplet pregnancies, she said, and could help expecting mums better manage complications arising from childbirth, such as pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence.

“Physiotherapy has an important role to play at all stages of pregnancy, labour and post birth, and should be part of routine care for all pregnant and postnatal women here in Australia regardless of the number of babies they’ve had or mode of delivery,” Ms Willis said.

“During pregnancy, physiotherapists can advise women about how to exercise correctly and modify daily activities as their bodies change, as well as helping them prepare their bodies for labour and caring for their children post birth.

“All women should also have access to a physiotherapist consultation after birth as part of routine care to screen for and help manage a wide range of conditions including urinary incontinence, faecal incontinence, pelvic girdle pain, abdominal muscle separation and symptoms of prolapse.

“All women regardless of where they live deserve the best quality care during pregnancy and after birth – adding physiotherapists to care teams would go a long way to improving outcomes for these women and their babies.”

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Nicole Madigan

Nicole Madigan is a widely published journalist with more than 15 years experience in the media and communications industries.

Specialising in health, business, property and finance, Nicole writes regularly for numerous high-profile newspapers, magazines and online publications.

Before moving into freelance writing almost a decade ago, Nicole was an on-air reporter with Channel Nine and a newspaper journalist with News Limited.

Nicole is also the Director of content and communications agency Stella Communications (www.stellacomms.com) and a children's author.