Kaye Hillsdon_Neuro Physio and Occupational Therapist
Author:
Kaye Hillsdon
Valley Rehab

Who might benefit from seeing a neuro physiotherapist and/or neuro occupational therapist?

I often get asked this question so I thought it would be helpful to share some information with you.

Most people have heard of physiotherapy but did you know there are many different areas of physio:

Neuromusculoskeletal Therapists

Physiotherapists that deal with conditions such as back pain, sports injuries, arthritic conditions.

Cardiorespiratory Therapists

The ones that help people to rehabilitate after a heart attack, or treat people with conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or cystic fibrosis.

Neuro physio Therapists

Those like me, who specialise in helping people who have damage to their brain or spinal cord because of conditions such as stroke, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury.

This list is not exhaustive.

The type of physiotherapy treatment somebody with a neurological condition actually receives depends very much on their individual symptoms.

For example, they may be experiencing difficulty walking or have difficulty using an arm, they may have problems with their balance and are falling at home. They could have problems with tone (i.e. too much or too little muscle tension), and/or could be experiencing pain.

Very often, it’s a combination of these factors that bring people to physio hence a varied and personalised treatment approach will be used to help improve, or at least maintain a person’s movement and functional ability.

This might involve hands-on treatments such as massage and joint mobilisations, alongside muscle strength training, stretching exercises, balance and coordination practise and perhaps even hydrotherapy (physio in water). It may also involve asking other health or social care professionals to help (e.g. with orthotics /splints or injection therapy).

By now you may be wondering, “What on earth do occupational therapists do then?

Occupational therapists (or OTs for short) are therapist who helps people gain or regain skills needed for everyday tasks such as being able to get washed and dressed, being able to make a meal, being able to move in and out of bed or a chair without help, or being able to get on and off a bus to get to work or a social occasion.

In short, OTs try to help people to take care of themselves, whether that be physically, mentally, socially or in some other practical way. This might involve practising a skill and/or learning a unique way of doing a previously accomplished task or it could involve using equipment to help make tasks easier. Often, OTs work with people in their own homes but they also work with people in community-based settings. For example, somebody’s workplace, a day centre or a rehabilitation facility.

It is worth noting that the difference between physiotherapy and occupational therapy is sometimes subtle and in some cases very obvious.

Frequently both types of therapy are used with the same client during their rehabilitation. This is certainly the case when I work with people being that I am both a physio and an OT.

So, when is the best time to work with a neuro physio and/or occupational therapist?

Well quite simply, you may need to work with one or both of these therapists at different periods in your life. For instance, you may notice that a family member’s or perhaps your own mental or physical capabilities are beginning to diminish because of age-related conditions making it more difficult to do everyday tasks.

It may be that you or a family member has had an injury possibly following a fall, or you become permanently disabled (e.g. following a stroke or road traffic accident) and need help to continue your rehabilitation following discharge from hospital or your NHS community therapy team.

If you are unsure whether neuro physio or OT is right for you or a family member then please do get in contact and I will be happy to discuss your needs.

Warm wishes

Kaye Hillsdon

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