What’s the difference between Active Physio
I recently read an article, by Human 2.0 (Canada), about the difference between passive and active physiotherapy. This inspired me to write something to help educate people on what we do at Physio Balance and why we think it is the gold standard of physio!
Firstly, What is the goal of physiotherapy? The goal, generally speaking, is independence. Most clients want to be able to move well, doing whatever they want, whenever they want. No restrictions, no pain, no discomfort!
Keeping this in mind, let’s have a look at what Passive physiotherapy entails.
Passive (Conventional) physiotherapy uses techniques and machines that are often performed on the client, as opposed to by the client. It often includes services such as:
- Joint mobilization: Slow movement performed by the therapist applied to the joint in order to relieve stiffness and improve range of motion.
- Joint manipulation: Fast movement/small thrust applied to the joint by the therapist to provide “immediate pain relief and improved mobility”.
- Ultrasound: can be used to decrease local swelling, and promote healing.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS machine): transmits small electrical pulses through the skin with the goal of changing the way pain signals are transmitted to the brain.
- Electrical muscle stimulation: causes the muscles to contract, can be used to strengthen weak muscles.
- Interferential current: electrical impulses are transmitted through the skin to stimulate endorphins (our body’s own pain killer), IFC is used to control pain and swelling.
- Acupuncture: restores the balance of energy within the body which promotes healing. The insertion of small needles also releases endorphins, which reduces pain and allows the body to heal.
These types of services are often what people search for and have learned to expect when looking for a physiotherapist. At Physio Balance, although we believe that some of these techniques may have a time and place, and we have used almost every technique above at one stage or another, we also believe and encourage that in order for a client to achieve physical independence, the client must put in work themselves. This means the client must be active and engaged DURING their sessions, as well as OUTSIDE of the sessions.
This brings me to Active Physiotherapy!
Active physiotherapy rarely involves machines but instead uses lots of MOVEMENT and ACTIVITY. The therapists role is to assess the client and then guide them through the exercises that would best suit the situation. Sessions are primarily used to show clients the exercises and to educate them on the correct form and reasoning behind the movement. The rest of the work must be done by the client. It requires commitment to change habits in daily life, and while it is definitely harder than passive physiotherapy, it is what gets results.
As the sessions progress the client will gradually improve their strength and stability while improving on their range of motion. The exercise progressions advance, so that the client can continue to be challenged by the movement to fit their abilities. While it is important to focus on technique in the sessions, it is imperative that the client learn to incorporate the movements into their daily life if they want to see results. With the average physio session being 30mins and most clients having 2-3 sessions a week at the most, that leaves approximately 166 hours in the rest of week that the client must try to fill with positive movement patterns to advance their success. Although other modalities may be used within the session, it is the focus on moving and changing the movement patterns and habits that will lead to the client achieving their goals.
With Active Physiotherapy we educate clients in order for them to have the necessary tools to improve their strength and mobility so they can feel better for the long term. The responsibility sits with the client to do the individualised program in order to increase their confidence and independence while reaching their goals.