This week we interviewed Stephanie Inman, a former varsity athlete and physiotherapist who works at the Lifemark in the Repsol Sport Centre. Not only was Inman able to offer some tips on what parts of physiotherapy are covered under Alberta Health Care, but she also shared with us some realistic expectations regarding the outcomes you can expect from your physiotherapy treatment.
YYC Fitness: What is a physiotherapist?
Inman: A physiotherapist is a health care professional that rehabilitates injuries, prevents injuries and helps return the patient back to their goals.
YYC Fitness: What is required to become a physiotherapist?
Inman: A 4-year bachelor degree is required as well as 2 and a half year masters of physical therapy. I completed my bachelors of science in kinesiology. Once you graduate there are more courses (not mandatory) that most physiotherapists take to enhance their skills.
YYC Fitness: When should a person visit a physiotherapist?
Inman: After an injury occurs, the quicker someone can get in to see a physiotherapist, the better and quicker the recovery/healing will be. Anyone can self-refer themselves to physiotherapy. No doctor’s note required.
YYC Fitness: What is the most common treatment/service you provide as a physiotherapist?
Inman: Manual therapy is the most common treatment I provide. Manual therapy is hands-on therapeutic treatment, which uses extensive knowledge of the body to move joints effectively, release/recruit muscles and increase the mobility of nerves. I am currently working towards my FCAMPT certification, which is the highest level of manual therapy you can obtain in Canada. CAMPT- Certified physiotherapists are Fellows of the Canadian Academy of Manipulative Physiotherapy (FCAMPT). CAMPT- Certified physiotherapists have advanced training and clinical abilities in Orthopedic assessment as well as manual (hands-on) therapeutic treatment techniques.
There are physiotherapists that specialize in different areas as well, such as concussion/vestibular, pediatrics, geriatrics, sports, pelvic floor, etc., to meet the needs of the specific population and injury.
YYC Fitness: What does a first appointment with you look like?
Inman: A first appointment consists of a comprehensive assessment, which includes;
- Tests to determine the diagnosis of the injury
- Tests to determine where and why the injury has occurred
- Education on diagnosis and prognosis of the injury
- Goal setting with the patient
- Take home exercises to start the recovery process
YYC Fitness: Do you have to attend multiple appointments to see benefits? If so what is the typical period of duration for most clients?
Inman: Yes, you do have to attend multiple appointments to see benefits. For the first 3 weeks, the more the patient comes to physio, the more they will see the benefits (i.e. one time a week vs. 3 times a week), however with manual therapy focused treatment a patient will see a change after one or two appointments. For the entire recovery process, it usually takes anywhere from 6-12 weeks, with the best outcomes coming from patients who go to physio multiple times per week. The benefits seen per patient will vary largely depending on the type of injury, age of the patient, severity of the injury, how well the patient does their homework and overall the health of the patient. Half of the treatment also includes the patients ongoing exercise plan and exercises that they can do at home.
YYC Fitness: How much does a typical appointment cost? Is a physiotherapist covered by most health care?
Inman: The assessment is $99 and follow-up treatment is $75. Physiotherapy is covered in most extended health care benefits (depending on the plan and provider that you have). Most people are not aware that Alberta Health Care provides 7 physiotherapy visits after any surgery to get the patient started on the recovery journey.
YYC Fitness: Can treatment be painful?
Inman: Yes, treatment can sometimes be painful. It is actually normal to be a bit sore 24- 48 hours after manual therapy treatment. Exercises can also at times be painful, however the general rule of thumb is that if the pain is at a 3 or 4 out of 10, then its okay. It’s important that the patient does not go above a 3 or 4 however so that they don’t “flare” up their injury and delay healing.
YYC Fitness: What should you look for when you a choosing a good physiotherapist?
Inman: A good physiotherapist conveys the proper treatment message and then delivers the treatment appropriately. . . [a good] physiotherapist is empathetic and gives good quality care to the patient. . . [You should] be wary of a physiotherapist that makes promises and guarantees certain outcomes of the injury, timelines, return to sport, etc. Every injury is specific and different for every individual. Everyone has slightly different healing timeframes depending on their age, activity level, diet, health, mentality, etc.
YYC Fitness: Is there anything else that you think people should know about physiotherapy?
Inman: Physiotherapy requires patients to be actively involved in the recovery of their injury and/or health. It involves patients taking the time and being invested in doing the prescribed exercises at home and listening to the physio’s advice. With the combined efforts of the physio treating the patient in the clinic and the patient managing their rehab at home, the patient will get better. If there is something else going on with the patient that is preventing them from recovering, there is probably something else going on, in that case the physio can refer them to the specialist that can help them get the appropriate care.
Thank you to Stephanie for taking the time to answer our questions on physical therapy! If you want to book an appointment with Stephanie, you can get in touch with her at the Lifemark in the Repsol Sport Centre where she works 1pm to 7pm Monday through Friday, or you can follow her at https://www.pintaram.com/u/stephthephysio.
Interview has been edited for length.