What Other Health Professionals Do I need To See?
Role of the Multidisciplinary Team
Great healthcare often involves the collaborative effort of many individuals from various professional backgrounds. During a visit to your Physiotherapist there are often conservations about the role these other health professionals can have in assisting you to recover from injury and to achieve your goals. Here we give some insights into what these different professions involve and how they can collaborate to help you achieve your goals and perform at your Physical Best.
A podiatrist is a university trained health professional who works exclusively with the foot and lower limb. Podiatrists have a great knowledge of lower limb biomechanics and the role the foot plays in lower limb injuries. In addition to helping manage foot and ankle injuries podiatrists also are involved in assessing and managing paediatric foot problems and general podiatry; such as ingrown toenails, diabetic care, gait analysis, post surgical podiatry and general foot care. A podiatrist is a valuable team member in helping make modifications to footwear, footwear recommendations and or orthotics that can help reduce symptoms of various low limb pains and injuries. Podiatrists also have a host of other tools that they can utilise to assist in managing various lower limb problems. More information about podiatry can be found here.
Psychology is the study of the human mind and its range of functions and influences (1). The study of this information helps advance our understanding of emotion, personality, intelligence, memory, perception, attention and motivation. Psychologists as a profession put this knowledge of the human mind and interactions into practice to help individuals find solutions to everyday problems. For some this means working to improve mental health and wellbeing, learn, perform optimally, enhance relationships and social cohesiveness (1). One example of where this would be valuable is in the instance following a shoulder dislocation where an athlete has mental wellbeing affected due to injury and fear of re-injury. A psychologist would be well positioned to work with the physiotherapist to implement strategies to assist in reducing anxiety related to re-injury and best manage time out of playing their sport.
Occupational therapists focus on promoting health and well-being by enabling people to participate in everyday activities. Through injury, illness or disadvantage an individual may have difficulty with self-care activities such as dressing, showering, preparing food; productive activities such as volunteering, education or work; or their social and recreational activities. Occupational therapists are university trained professionals who are able to assist individuals address these difficulties through a number of various services (2). Some of these include; the therapeutic use of occupations and activities; development of numerous daily life skills (such as self-care); education and individual support; case co-ordination and assistance with multiple step tasks; modification of home or workplace environments. For example, someone with a significant shoulder injury, an Occupational Therapist assists by modifying your home or workplace to reduce shoulder pain and develop strategies to complete everyday tasks. In more complex cases where memory or cognitive problems may also exist, they may help implement strategies to assist in learning and develop visual aids to assist in memory recall.
Accredited exercise physiologists specialise in clinical exercise interventions for people who have, or are at risk of having a number of medical conditions or injuries. These exercise interventions are used to prevent or manage acute, subacute or chronic disease or injury and assist in restoring one’s optimal physical function (3). Some of these diseases or conditions might include; cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, cancer and musculoskeletal diseases such as osteoporosis. Additional exercises physiologists are positioned to do workplace assessments, functional assessments and education for lifestyle modification. A physio and exercise physiologist may work together in delivering a comprehensive exercise program for someone with pulmonary disease and musculoskeletal injuries.
A sports doctor or sports medicine practitioner is a qualified general practitioner with additional qualification in sports, such as Master of Sports Medicine, Diploma of Sports Medicine, and/or interest in sports medicine. A ‘sports doctor’ is specialist medical practitioner who provides skill and expertise in: providing an accurate diagnosis of musculoskeletal injuries; addressing the causes, treatment and prevention of musculoskeletal injury and medical problems related to physical activity and sport (4).
These health professionals have expertise in general medicine, orthopaedics, radiology and rehabilitation plus allied sport sciences including nutrition, biomechanics, exercise physiology and sports psychology. A sports doctor may become involved in a for numerous reasons; such as to provide the above expertise in a case, to assist in a difficult diagnosis, ability to perform and interpret radiology, perform numerous treatments such as education, corticosteroid injections, PRP injections, prolotherapy, viscosupplementation, nerve blocks, and or medication prescriptions.
Speech pathologists study, diagnose and treat communication disorders (6). This can include difficulties with speaking, listening, understanding language, reading, writing, social skills, stuttering and using voice. They work with people who have difficulty communicating because of developmental delays, stroke, brain injuries, learning disability, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, dementia and hearing loss, as well as other problems that can affect speech and language. Speech pathologists are also involved in assisting those who have difficulty safely swallowing food and drink.
A wide variety of health professionals can be greatly valuable in helping individuals achieve their goals and improve their overall health and quality of life.
Lewis Craig (APAM)
Masters of Physiotherapy
Featured in the Top 50 Physical Therapy Blog
- Australian Society Of Psychologists https://www.psychology.org.au/for-the-public/about-psychology