Physiotherapy is one field which expanded to encompass many other sub-fields. The specializations included Orthopedics and Neurology to start with. Slowly it gathered a footing in Pediatrics, Geriatrics, Women’s health, Sports and Cardio Pulmonary Rehab. Now the latest addition is Mental Health.
One might wonder how do physiotherapists fit in here? Omkar Sawant, a Chartered Mental Health Physiotherapist working in NHS Foundation Trust UK tells us.
To give you a little background, He Specializes in Older people, mental health, fall prevention, Health promotion and physiotherapy service delivery. He has been nominated for the trust awards in 2014 for excellence in service delivery and has also achieved 65 % reduction in falls over the trust in 2013 and further reduction in 2014.
• The aim of physiotherapy in mental health is to promote the well-being of those with physical impairment associated with mental illness, and improve psychological health through physical approaches.
• As the physical experts, physiotherapy provides an additional, enhancing perspective on intervention that is not offered by any other Mental Health Professional.
A Mental Health Physiotherapist treats for Musculoskeletal and Neurological Issues keeping in mind the Mental Health of the patient.
Omkar usually treats older people (Geriatrics) with mental health issues. The two main type of patients he treats are:
1. Organic brain disorders- Dementia, Delirium
2. Functional brain disorders- Schizhophrenia, Depression, Mania
The other specialties in Mental Health available in UK are:
1. Learning disabilities and Adult cerebral palsy
2. Eating disorders and weight management
3. Adults with mental health issues- Depression, Mania, Schizophrenia
4. Geriatric mental health.
5. Forensics and prison services
6. Specialist addiction services
What is the role of a Physiotherapist in Mental Health?
- Assessment :Basic history taking, Identifying and analyzing the base line,History, socioeconomic status, Addictions and its effects on mental health, Marital status and relationships at home.
Touch Based Skills: A universal need for physical contact and touch can become more intense when a client’s mental health declines.Physiotherapists are unique within mental health as the only therapists who routinely use touch and massage in patient care.Evidence has shown that the effect of massage in reducing anxiety and depression is similar in magnitude to psychotherapy.
Movement Based Therapies: Research has shown the positive impact of physio therapeutic activity on mental health.The therapeutic effects of exercise in preventing or reducing the severity of depression for the non pharmaceutical management of depression in adults (Edinburgh 2010).Physical activity, exercise and movement are part of the core skills used by physiotherapists to promote self-efficacy and well being.
Relaxation, Breathing Control and Tension Awareness: Physiotherapists are skilled in assessing effective respiratory movements and able to teach breathing control to enable patients to manage hyperventilation.These and other strategies are vital to recovery and can provide patients with the tools to self manage conditions such as anxiety disorders, chronic pain and chronic fatigue
Interpersonal Skills: Physiotherapists in Mental Health have developed their undergraduate communication skills to a high level through experiential learning.This allows them to develop highly effective collaborative relationships with service users, the success of which has been shown to have significance in delivering positive outcomes for individuals.
Reducing carer’s strain: Physiotherapy can assist in reducing the burden of care by educating carers to encourage independence in people with physical health problems mainly in LD and dementia.
Mental Recovery is as important as Physical Recovery. Omkar recommends outdoor activity like walking, cycling, running,Yoga and Tai Chi to help relieve stress.
Physiotherapy is one field which opens new venues for physiotherapists. There are few fields that this field has left untouched. Now with this knowledge it will provide one more field for Physios to choose from.
And for Patients who have mental health issues along with Musculoskeletal Issues, Holistic approach with the help of a physiotherapist who specializes in Mental Health is best, to get you better, faster.
Special Thanks to Omkar Sawant who provided valuable information about Mental Health in Physiotherapy.