Older people often need physiotherapy following an operation or injury, or for a chronic muscular condition related to ageing. Surgical procedures for the older adult are becoming more common, particularly knee replacement and hip replacement operations, and physio is always needed in these cases.
Physiotherapy uses physical methods, such as massage and manipulation, to promote healing and restore a person’s range of movements.
Physiotherapists use a wide range of techniques and approaches, including:
- massage and manipulation, using the hands to relieve muscle pain and stiffness and encourage blood flow to an injured part of the body to help recovery
- heat, cold, electric current, light and water
- remedial exercise (exercise that takes into account a person’s current level of health and any specific requirements they may have)
- providing support to help patients manage chronic conditions
You can access a physiotherapist in one of the following ways:
- the HSE: Your GP or Public Health Nurse may refer you to a physiotherapist. They will discuss your symptoms with you and may decide that you would benefit from physiotherapy. Physiotherapy through the HSE is free of charge. All physiotherapists who work in the HSE are chartered (qualified as a member of a professional body).
- the private sector: In Ireland, many physiotherapists work in the private sector. If you decide to visit a private physiotherapist, you will have to pay for any treatment you receive. If you decide to see a private physiotherapist, make sure they are fully qualified and are a member of a recognised body, such as the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapy (ISCP). Physiotherapists who are members of the ISCP will follow high standards of professional practice and will have a good level of knowledge and skills.
- contacting a physiotherapist directly: Self-referral is becoming more widely practiced and has proven particularly popular for people with chronic (long-term) conditions who know what type of treatment they require. Self-referral has several benefits including: saving time – both for GPs and patients; reducing waiting times for patients; improved levels of attendance at appointments and empowering patients to self-manage their condition.