What is physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is the prevention, treatment and management of disease and disability using physical approaches, thereby promoting health and well-being for all. The aim of physiotherapy in mental health ‘is to promote the well-being and autonomy of people with physical health needs associated with mental or physical illness or learning disability, and to use physical approaches to influence psychological health.’

Role of Physiotherapy in Mental Health:

  • Provide skilled, accessible and equitable rehabilitation services for service users in a variety of in-patient, domiciliary and hospital settings.
  • Provide service users with timely, individualised and clinically effective care, including preventative care, assessment, treatment, management and advice to alleviate pain, maximise function and promote safe functional independence.
  • To promote links between physical and mental wellbeing, encouraging participation in leisure activities, physical activity working towards wellness and recovery and reducing isolation and social exclusion.
  • To rehabilitate referred patients and support them towards recovery via a comprehensive intervention programme that addresses their recognised needs. Interventions can range from all forms of exercise (group or individualised) or active bodywork and relaxation to passive treatments.
  • Provide treatment for clients whose mental health prevents them from accessing general services and where there is a need to understand the complexities of the psychological health in order to deliver effective patient centred care.

Why Physiotherapists in Mental Health?

Physiotherapists specialised in mental health have specific physical and mental health training to bridge the gap between physical and mental health needs of patients. We have an increasing important role to play in supporting patients with mental illness and dementia to help improve their quality of life. Physiotherapists have a significant role in the multidisciplinary team approach to holistic management.

What services are rendered by Physiotherapists in Mental Health?

  • Falls Prevention and Management Service: Specific exercise programmes, education and advice to support falls prevention, maintain mobility and encourage physical activity in older adults.
  • Posture and Balance training/advice: Training/advice and exercises to help improve posture and balance in adult and elderly patients.
  • General mobility problem: Problems with standing or walking can be for a wide range of reasons that need to be analysed. These may require retraining, exercises or use of walking aid. Mobility problems are particularly common with falls in the frail and elderly who often require assessment of falls risk and management.
  • Joint pain and injury: There are a range of therapies to relieve pain, improve joint movement and help recovery of soft tissues. We manage people with arthritis, burns or injures as a result of self-harm and those with somatisation.
  • Neurological conditions: Exercise and retraining can be used to aid recovery from stroke or other paralysis and to maintain abilities in chronic long term conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis and other inflammatory diseases. Some of these can be adapted for use with people suffering from dementing illness. 
  • Orthopaedic: We work closely with orthopaedic consultants, fracture clinic and general hospital therapists to follow through instructions about mobility or getting the joint moving after surgery or immobilization in plaster. Occasionally, we may be the ones to identify fractures that may have occurred and facilitate a referral to the orthopaedics. Mobility problems arising from arthritis and/or post-amputation following self harm or suicidal attempts are managed by us. 
  • Respiratory: Conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (Asthma, Bronchitis) and chest infections can be relieved by breathing exercises and techniques for clearing sputum.
  • Healthy living and wellbeing promotion: Physical health management and exercise promotion is of particular interest to us as physiotherapists in mental health. There is considerable evidence for the benefits of exercise in depression and our team offer different levels of exercise for differing user groups mainly run by our experienced physiotherapy assistants. This includes the work done by our fitness instructors with groups and individuals. We also run stress and anxiety management programmes and use relaxation techniques for groups and individuals. 
  • Support for service users and carers.
  • Facilitate the implementation of a 24 hour posture management programme. This includes corrective orthosis, standing & seating and lying supports.
  • Give guidance and advice on mobility, balance and falls prevention.
  • Therapeutic manual handling advice.
  • Assessment and advice on specialist equipment. [e.g. mobility aids, wheelchair, armchair, orthosis, manual handling equipment]
  • Hydrotherapy management.