Areas of Specialization in Physiotherapy

When it comes to talking about specialty areas in physiotherapy or what physiotherapy areas you’ll like to specialize it should be based purely on your strengths and interests.
Most physiotherapists specialize in musculoskeletal or sports physiotherapy either for lack of better ideas or job prospects ( not that these are totally wrong reasons).
I think some things you should consider when deciding to specialize are –

  • What really are your interests? Would you rather work with the young or the elederly? I personally don’t like seeing children in the hospital so paediatrics is definitely not my thing.
  • What skills have you gathered over the years and which of your skills are you likely to harness? Have you seen yourself coming up with successful rehabilitation programs for patients that suffered from musculoskeletal injuries, for example, over and over again? Are there particular cases or conditions that your superiors or colleagues have associated you with because of your achievements? That may be an area worth looking to.
  • What medical conditions are common in the country or city where you practise? 
  • What job openings for senior positions have you noticed? That would give you an idea of what direction your career progression should take.
  • If there’s a guarantee of getting a better pay in one area of specialty than another what stops you from taking the plunge? 

Some Common Areas of Specialization in Physiotherapy

A cardiopulmonary physiotherapist works to improve functional independence and endurance of patients with disorders or diseases of the cardiopulmonary system. Disorders like cystic fibrosis, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)…

Musculoskeletal physiotherapists focus on Musculoskeletal injuries and conditions and handle rehabilitation after orthopaedic surgery. Common conditions treated are sprains, strains, fractures, amputation, back pain…

Paediatric physiotherapists in the diagnosis and management of injuries, illnesses and diseases of younger people. They work with children with congenital birth defects and developmental delays like cerebral palsy, spins bifida and torticollis.

Geriatric physiotherapy focuses on the elderly; keeping them mobile and helping them live healthy lifestyles with specialty knowledge on likely conditions or challenges they might be facing or likely to fave as a result of being advanced in age. Countries like Australia have a high demand for geriatric physiotherapists.

Sports Physiotherapy
Sports physiotherapists don’t just focus on treating sport injuries or injuries sustained by athletes. They have in depth knowledge on various kinds of sports and information on likely injuries that may be sustained. They are actively involved in not just rehaibilitaing the sports person but getting him back to optimal performance.

Women’s Health
Physiotherapists that specialise in women’s health focus on disorders of the pelvis and pelvic floor such as incontinence, prolapse, constipation and pelvic pain.

Neurological Physiotherapists deal with people with neurological damage, disease or disorders. Most neurological cases affect the functional dependence of these people. Cases like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke and so on.

How do you get to specialize?

So now that you’ve made up your mind to go further in your physiotherapy career how do you become a specialist? The first move that reveals what area of specialty you are tilting towards is your Masters program. This is the first step to working towards your area of specialisation.

The next move to make is the hospital setting you choose to work. There are specialised hospitals for assessing and treating paediatric, neurological, musculoskeletal conditions…to mention a few.

If you are a registered physiotherapist in Canada this bit of information might be of interest to you thinking of specializing:

The CPA Clinical Specialty Program is a self-directed certification program to recognize physiotherapists who have demonstrated advanced clinical competence, leadership, continuing professional development and involvement in research. The specialist designation is valid for 10 years.

The CPA Clinical Specialty Program is available to all registered physiotherapists, regardless of practice setting or location.

To register as a candidate in the CPA Clinical Specialty Program, you must meet the following requirements:

A minimum of five years full time (one year full-time is 1800 hours) applied clinical experience
A minimum of 300 clinical contact hours in the clinical specialty area annually
A valid registration with their physiotherapy regulatory body in Canada
A completed application form along with payment of the application fee
See more here 

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