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Exercise Physiology AND Physiotherapy

“Alone we can do so little but together we can achieve so much”

Exercise physiology and physiotherapy within disability and age care rehabilitation complement each other effectively and prove to show significant benefits on expected outcomes for participants.

The ICF framework emphasises a holistic view of health, considering not just the medical condition but also the individual’s functional abilities, activity limitations, and participation restrictions.

Exercise physiologists bring expertise in designing and monitoring exercise programs that improve overall physical fitness, physiological function and motivation to continue the hard work achieved during the period of intervention. The programs are designed to cover areas relating specifically to impairments to assist with breaking through limitations in activities and achieve overall participation focused goals. This however can not be achieved alone.

Physiotherapists focus on specific impairments and functional limitations resulting from their conditions. They use targeted interventions to address issues such as muscle weakness, spasticity, and balance deficits. By applying techniques like hands on therapy, assistive technology, and task-specific training, they directly enhance the patient’s ability to perform daily activities and participate in social and occupational roles.

A referral to both exercise physiology and physiotherapy is crucial for person-centered care, as it ensures a comprehensive approach to rehabilitation.

Exercise physiologists can optimise the patient’s overall physical condition, which supports the effectiveness of physiotherapy interventions. Meanwhile, physiotherapists can address specific functional deficits, facilitating better outcomes in daily living and participation which assist exercise physiology to work towards participation based goals. This integrated approach, aligned with the ICF framework, promotes a more complete recovery, addressing not just the physical impairments but also improving activity levels and participation, ultimately enhancing the patient’s quality of life.

Lets look at just one example:

“A lovely lady in her late 70’s has been referred for a wheelie walker trial and prescription”

Both the exercise physiologist and physiotherapist complete initial assessments and share information to work together with the patient.

Physiotherapy may start by specifically targeting information regarding why a walker may be required by assessing physical, environmental, equipment prescription and medical reasoning that may be contributing to reduced balance and mobility.

The exercise physiologist may start specifically targeting information regarding current lifestyle habits for longevity, motivation, physical barriers and overall physiological fitness and wellbeing.

Both the physiotherapist and exercise physiologist commence on specific targeted therapy goals while working towards the one common goal of keeping this lovely lady safe while improving her overall health and wellbeing.

From here both the exercise physiologist and physiotherapist continue working alongside each other with potentially a final outcome of:

  • Appropriate wheelie walker prescribed
  • Home environment assessed and modifications changed
  • Medication review completed due to side effects on dizziness
  • Balance and mobility program implanted
  • Daily physical activity now being completed
  • Engagement back into daily activities with confidence that has not been completed for some time
  • Engagement in community activities including leisure and social interests
  • Motivation to continue completing their exercises at home and within the community
  • Connections to group or community physical activities
  • OVERALL a significant and powerful increase in quality of life
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