Physiotherapists assess, treat and prevent disorders in human movement caused by injury and disease. They are often members of medical teams that treat sport injuries and ill persons, and help disabled people to lead useful lives with as much independence and personal fulfilment as possible. They use a variety of physical techniques and therapies in the treatment and rehabilitation of their patients.
Physiotherapists work with a variety of patients including physically disabled children, pre- and post-natal women, sportsmen and women, industrial employees, hospital in- and out-patients and people within the community.
Tasks can include helping patients recover from accident, illness or injury, organising physical exercise sessions, providing massages, supervising specialist therapies such as electrotherapy and aromatherapy, collecting statistics, writing reports, liaising with professionals such as doctors and nurses and providing education and advice about exercise and movement.
If the physiotherapists are not part of a health care team, they may work independently in private practice, within the school system or as industry consultants.
Working environments may vary from spacious, well-equipped gymnasia to hospital wards and intensive care units, or to crowded and noisy clinics. Actual settings depend on the type, location and resources of employers. Some physiotherapists visit and treat patients in their homes.
Important skills for physiotherapists are good time management, the ability to build a rapport with patients from a variety of backgrounds and communicate with their relatives and carers, tolerance and patience, good physical health and fitness, interpersonal skills and team-working skills.
Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, University of Cape Town, University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of Limpopo, University of Pretoria, University of Stellenbosch, University of the Free State, University of the Western Cape, University of the Witwatersrand