The Role of Research in the Advancement of the Health Professions


Physiotherapy also referred to as physical therapy dates back to early Greece at a period that was commonly associated with Hippocrates. From that period henceforth, physiotherapy has thus developed from just an ordinary message to a profession that is characterized by complex portfolios of treatments with several applications. Physiotherapy is a profession, which involves the prevention, examination and treatment of practical ailments that usually limit one to move freely. The patients are thus evaluated through the administration of various tests that are aimed at determining whether an injury exists and its extent if any. The tests that are conducted are usually physical and the patient is assessed in such aspects as the endurance of his or her muscle, the strength of the joints, pace, the capability to perform work, functioning of both the lungs and the heart, motions of the joints among other activities that enhances the day to day life of a person. Physiotherapy is usually conducted by health professionals who are commonly referred to as physiotherapists. The treatments that are done include therapeutic exercises i.e. exercises that are aimed at increasing the power and harmonization of the joint motions, the heat exercises, electrical exercises, water exercises e.t.c. (Coulter, 1978).

In addition, physiotherapists are vested with the role of providing useful information relating to physical disorders to avoid the incidences of movement dysfunctions as well as physical disability. However, the physiotherapist in the course of treatment usually monitors the progress of the patient and in turn adjusts the treatment strategies about the views of the patients. In order to enhance the patient’s attendance, the physiotherapists usually engage in extensive research with respect to treatment and assessment techniques (Rutten, 2010, 26-34).

The following essay is thus concerned with the role of research in the advancement of the physiotherapy profession. The paper also recognizes the major physiotherapy research areas. Research has been the major factor that has facilitated the profession of physiotherapy over the years. The pioneers of physiotherapy have continued to research the profession and as a result, physiotherapy has gained recognition in the entire world. The research has also enhanced efficiency as far as the profession is concerned.

Major physiotherapy research areas

Just like any other health professional, the physiotherapists are deemed to be well qualified and deliver his or her services in a professional manner. Besides this, he or she is required to behave in a manner that is not contradictory as far as his provision of health care services is concerned i.e. a physiotherapist must uphold integrity and ethics at all times. However, the major areas of research study with regard to physiotherapy include the following:

Neuromuscular re-education is concerned with the aspect of improving the balancing as well as positioning of the body. It thus involves those exercises that are aimed at enhancing balance for instance standing on one leg for a given amount of time. The exercises are also aimed at enhancing stability e.g. Bike riding. The person for whom the treatment is being done is usually required to have a feeling of his or her joints’ position. Neuromuscular re-education is strongly believed to be ideal for healing after suffering from an injury as it removes the fibrous adhesions that occur in the injured parts. Another area of research study is musculoskeletal re-education, which is concerned with an evaluation of the movements of the body parts i.e. legs and hands. It is ideal for people who are usually engaged in sports or people who suffer injury from an accident. The treatment is thus designed according to the requirements of an individual and includes simple exercises among others. Cardiovascular, as well as cardiorespiratory research, is the other area as far as research study is concerned with dealing with body composition and fitness. It is thus ideal for people with obesity and those who have respiratory problems due to such factors as cigarette smoking (Simoneau, 2003, 65-72).

Chronic and acute pain management is another research area. Pain management moves towards easing pain and hence enhancing the lives of patients that experience pain. Acute management is aimed at enhancing proper heart functioning.

Biomechanical and Kinesiological studies refer to sports science that is concerned with the study of people’s movements. They usually apply the laws relating to physics and mechanics to determine the functioning of the body (Glynn, & Weisbach, 2009).

Role of Research in physiotherapy profession

In the recent past, there have been efforts that have been geared towards the advancement of the physiotherapy profession through research. Research has been the most common attribute with regards to the physiotherapy profession and it dates back to the early 1920s when it was initiated in the United States.

The research is aimed at providing education to the physiotherapists so as to give them an overview of what is expected from them as they practice the profession. With regards to the physiotherapy profession, the research will facilitate in bridging the communication gaps because it will explain clearly the procedures that will be undertaken to ensure improved treatment results (APTA, 2001).

As a result of research, the patients who are neutral will thus have confidence in trying various practical experiments relating to physiotherapy. Once they experience the new advancements of physiotherapy, they will be in a position to refer to their colleagues and this will ensure that the profession grows tremendously. On the other hand, the physiotherapists will demonstrate to the public that their practices have scientific worth and this will help restore public confidence in the profession (Domholdt, 2000).

Research ensures the continued existence of the physiotherapy profession because it helps to prepare future professionals. The education from research ensures that future practitioners base their occupations on scientific principles.

The research will also ensure efficiency as far as the physiotherapy profession is concerned and this will in turn help to reduce the operations costs. The research will identify those areas that require to be improved and those areas that are not significant. The physiotherapy research will help to determine the special needs of the patients so as to ensure that proper treatment is accorded and not to expose patients to risks. For instance, the physiotherapist can recommend aqua aerobics to older people so as to help prevent them from falling. On the other hand, the research will enable the physiotherapist to determine the needs of the younger people and because they are more involved in sporting activities, he or she can thus give them the correct treatment (Staci, Schwartz & Gary, 1996 497-500).

Physiotherapy as a profession is a part and parcel of the health care profession and this implies that physiotherapists don’t operate in a vacuum but instead, they are also a team of the health care as they collaborate with other professions such as dentists, nurses among others. They thus require education so as to have an understanding of the entire health industry and to be able to handle the issues that come along the course of duty. For instance, the patients cannot have faith in a physiotherapist who cannot answer some of the simple issues they raise regarding the health profession (Krisine, 2010, 12-27).

The research also enhances the professional values that a physiotherapist possesses as it helps to define the legal as well as ethical boundaries within which the physiotherapy is practiced. It ensures that the physical therapist is competent and demonstrates such values as care, sympathy among others in an effort to enhance the life and health quality of the patients (APTA, 2008).


The research by the physiotherapists ensures that they gain adequate knowledge as far as their duties are concerned and for the advancement of the entire health profession. However, the research cannot be effective without the involvement of volunteers. Physiotherapy is often involved with the human body and so it calls for the volunteers who give their time as well as act as the subjects during research.

Physiotherapy is important as it promotes healthy wellness as well as prevents injuries. The research thus helps the physiotherapist to determine the ideal practices that will enhance the health conditions of their patients. As a part and parcel of the entire health team, physiotherapists ensure that a patient’s health goals are realized (Pitney & Parker, 2009). They thus have an impact as far as the life quality of the general public is concerned.

However, the physiotherapy research is not the same in all the countries but varies depending on such aspects as the availability of funds, presence of scientist practitioners who usually act as the role models in influencing the beliefs about physiotherapy.

Reference List

American Physical Therapy Association., 2001.Guide to physical therapist Practice. Virginia: APTA.

American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)., 2008. Discovering Physical Therapy: What is physical therapy? Virginia: APTA.

Coulter, J.S., 1978. Physical therapy. New York: AMS Press.

Domholdt, E., 2000. Physical therapy research: principles and applications. Philadelphia: Saunders.

Glynn, P.E. & Weisbach, P.C., 2009.Clinical Prediction Rules: Physical Therapy Reference Manual. Sudbury: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Krisine, J.L., 2010. Physical Therapy: Biomechanical Archives.Vol:9.February.P.12-27.

Pitney, W. & Parker J., 2009. Qualitative research in physical activity and the Health professions. US: Human Kinetics

Rutten, G.M., 2010.Physical Therapy: Journal of the American Physical Therapy Assiociation.Vol. 90, no. 2.P.26-34.

Simoneau, D.2003. Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Web.

Staci, J., Schwartz, M.S. & Gary, G., 1996. Statistical methods in rehabilitation Literature: A survey of recent publications. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Volume 77, Issue 5 , Pages 497-500.