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What is physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy provides services to individuals and populations to develop, maintain, restore and optimise health and function throughout the lifespan. This includes providing services to people compromised by ageing, injury, disease or environmental factors. Physiotherapy identifies and maximises quality of life and movement potential by using the principles of promotion, prevention, treatment/intervention, habilitation and rehabilitation. This encompasses physical, psychological, emotional, and social well being.

After assessing a patient’s potential for movement and function, the physiotherapist establishes (together with the patient, whanau/family and caregivers) treatment goals designed to restore or develop that potential, and then maintain it. Physiotherapy is provided in a variety of settings from patient/client care (in hospitals and communities) to health management, research, policy making, educating and consulting.

Physiotherapists are highly skilled and highly educated, with a full understanding of the relationship between medical conditions and how the body works.  In New Zealand, it is a requirement under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act (2004) for all physiotherapists to be registered with the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand, which ensures that they meet the competencies required to practise physiotherapy and monitors their ongoing education and competence.

Note that, in some parts of the world, physiotherapy is called physical therapy and physiotherapists are called physical therapists.

Since 1972 physiotherapists in New Zealand have been practicing acupuncture as a part of their physiotherapy practice.

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