Physiotherapy is the branch of medicine that is used to increase the functional capability of a person's body that has been limited due to an impairment, accident, or disability. Also known as physical therapy, the procedures are used with all types of patients, from elderly ones that are losing mobility to young children that have physical problems that need to be addressed. The goal of a physiotherapy program is to reach a point where the physical problem is no longer an obstacle in the patient's life and day to day activities. While a large part of the medical branch is devoted to responding to the reduced function of the body, there are also some practitioners that use preventive maintenance to stop physical issues before they occur, such as in the case of the natural aging of the body.
Although the term of physiotherapy is quite new, physicians have been using the same types of techniques for thousands of years. Some early medical practitioners, such as Galenus and Hippocrates, used massage and water therapy in their attempts to restore the normal function of the body to patients with these impairments. It was not until 1813 that the specialization of physiotherapy was considered to be a separate part of medicine. In that year, the Swedish doctor Per Henrik Ling attended to the needs of gymnasts that were developing muscle problems due to their exercises and performance routines. He used a combination of muscle manipulation and massage to cure the problems. Other countries followed Ling's advice and there were soon physical therapy centers in many different nations.
In modern times, the use of physiotherapy has seen a great deal of technological and educational advancement. In addition to stricter education requirements, there is a better understanding of how to treat the physical issues in a way that will not cause later damage to the patient. To facilitate the needs of the physical therapy community, there has been an international organization set up to create a linked community of physiotherapy experts. Called the World Confederation of Physical Therapy, the group requires that students go through at least four years of university studies to be accredited. In general, a person that would like to become a physical therapist must learn about the clinical sciences, such as pulmonary, metabolic, musculoskeletal, and cardiovascular systems.
In the physiotherapy world, many doctors decide to become specialists for a certain range of problems. One of the more popular choices is to deal with cardiovascular and pulmonary issues. These physicians become experts in treating the physical impairments that come with such conditions as pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, and the damage that comes from heart attacks and strokes. Other specializations include geriatric for elderly patients and integumentary, which deals with the skin problems like burns and wounds.