PhysioUpdate 5th April 2022


Two physios create resource: 'Why Does Movement Help? The remarkable science of physical therapy'
Physical therapists help people recover from illness and injury, but also have a preventive role

Two physiotherapists based in Australia have co-created an online resource for children that explains why exercise is so important and how physical therapists ‘make the most of these changes’.

They are Joshua W. Pate, who is an assistant professor in physiotherapy at the University of Technology Sydney, and Verity Pacey, an associate professor in physiotherapy at Macquarie University.

The resource, titled Why Does Movement Help? The remarkable science of physical therapy, appears on a website called Frontiers for Young Minds. The resource, which was published today (4 April), explains that the term physiotherapy is used in many countries instead of physical therapy.

In a tweet in response to this article's publication, Dr Pate noted: 'We hope it can be a helpful conversation starter in a clinical setting, as well as for budding physios and researchers!' [added on 5 April].

Frontiers for Young Minds

Frontiers for Young Minds was recognised by the American Library Association as a ‘great website for kids’ shortly after it was launched in 2014. In a section titled ‘What do we do? The site states: ‘Frontiers for Young Minds believes that the best way to make cutting-edge science discoveries available to younger audiences is to enable young people and scientists to work together to create articles that are both accurate and exciting.’

The writing team

In a brief biography, Joshua says he recently moved from a post as a senior physiotherapist in a hospital and that he is a PhD researcher. ‘Joshua is continuing his research into pain in children and education about the science of pain. He loves that moment when his students say, “Aha! I get it now!”’

Email: joshua.pate@uts.edu.au

Verity describes herself as an experienced clinical physiotherapist who supervises students and clinicians doing research. ‘Verity is an expert on rare and complex conditions in children, focusing on physical activity, function, and quality of life.’

The pair express thanks to Cassandra James, 17, for ‘her insightful comments [which] enhanced the quality of the early versions of this manuscript’. Cassandra is a student at Parishville-Hopkinton Central School District in Parishville, New York.

After explaining a little about how the profession originated and has developed, stressing that it is likely to keep on evolving, the resource offers an eight-point table to explain what a typical appointment might involve. This says the physical therapist will, for example:

  • ask questions
  • measure how the patient’s joints and muscles move
  • make a diagnosis
  • explain what will likely happen with the patient’s condition in the future
  • teach the patient about his or her condition
  • give treatments that will help the patient now
  • give treatments that will help the patient in the future
  • give advice on how to live a healthy life

We recognize that exercise is important, but exercise is only part of what physical therapists do – they work hard understand to treat the whole person. The science of physical therapy is complex and a lot of research is still happening [Joshua W. Pate and Verity Pacey]

Holistic approach

The resource stresses that physical therapists take a holistic approach. ‘Although they are called physical therapists, these professionals also care about people’s health in terms of their thinking, their emotions, and their relationships. This is because scientists now know how much all these parts of life are connected.’

Elsewhere, the resource focuses on the types of conditions physical therapists that treat, offering a number of references for further reading, and looks at the wide variety of roles that they fill as their careers progress.

It concludes: ‘We recognize that exercise is important, but exercise is only part of what physical therapists do – they work hard understand to treat the whole person. The science of physical therapy is complex and a lot of research is still happening. Hopefully this research will benefit this field in the future, so that we can all keep moving in a healthy direction with physical therapy.’

To find out more, visit: https://kids.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/frym.2022.639052



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