With careers today not limited to traditional domains, there are a plethora of options available to choose from. One such unconventional yet fulfilling career is that of a physiotherapist. Physiotherapy is a science related to health care that focuses on restoration of movement and function of various body parts. Physiotherapists help diagnose and treat patients of all ages suffering from health problems or conditions that limit their mobility and affect their day-to-day activities.

They also work with individuals to develop fitness and promote general well-being as part of a healthier and active lifestyle.

What does it take to become a physiotherapist? A person who has undergone training as part of a graduate, post graduate, or doctoral programme in the science of physiotherapy is eligible to take this up as a profession. To pursue this course, one must have a background in life sciences such as the biology and anatomy or a foundation in psychology or sociology.

Higher degree programmes like masters or doctoral studies in the field of physiotherapy give candidates in-depth knowledge and a vivid analysis of various aspects of this science. Physiotherapists are an essential part of the healthcare delivery system and play an important role in rehabilitation and other programmes that promote health and fitness in both professional as well as social communities. Some roles and responsibilities of a physiotherapist include diagnosing and managing dysfunctional physical movement; promoting improvement of all-round mobility and specific physical functions; restoring, maintaining, and enhancing physical movement and optimal functions; promoting overall wellbeing and fitness to ensure good quality of life and preventing and treating symptomatic progression of impaired physical movement, functional limitations, disabilities related to diseases, disorders, conditions, injuries or post-operative recovery.

Clinical physiotherapists: They provide care to patients with activity limitations and impairments/ailments of any kind. They collaborate with other healthcare providers to address needs such as communication and the provision of effective and efficient treatment assistance. At a clinical level, they provide end-to-end care for patients, and undertake their assessment and treatment.

Engagement care officer: In this role, physiotherapists reach out to old patients who may be at risk of a relapse. By making sure that they follow the recommended exercise routine, they help ensure patients’ longterm wellbeing.

Clinical and non-clinical roles: Other roles that physiotherapists can assume include consultation, education, research, and administration. Some may be a part of the quality control team as well and others can undertake key leadership roles in the business management vertical to ensure smooth functioning of a health care delivery centre.

Other prospects: Professionals with a degree/ diploma in physiotherapy have many job opportunities in India, in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centres, and private clinics. With the advent of home health care services, physiotherapy services are also provided at home and private offices. Physiotherapists also have ample prospects in outpatient departments of hospitals, clinics, and community and primary health centres, health clubs, fitness centres, occupational health centres, schools for differently abled children, and senior citizen centres. Since physiotherapy is also an important part of sports injury recovery programmes, physiotherapists find jobs in sports medicine and rehabilitation centres too.

Pay scale: Professionals in India with a degree in physiotherapy complemented by excellent soft skills such as teamwork, good communication, and critical thinking may earn anywhere between Rs 8,000 and Rs 15,000 per month as freshers. While the remuneration varies with the company and the set up, it also depends on the level of qualification and the college. As the candidates move higher on the experience ladder, the pay packages also get better.

Institutes offering physiotherapy courses in India: Several institutes in India offer various fulltime degree programmes in the field of physiotherapy. Most colleges offer these courses to individuals who have passed +2 with physics, chemistry, and biology as the main subjects. The bachelor-level courses span over four and a half years. Some of the regular colleges with this course are Apollo Physiotherapy College, Hyderabad; Pt Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Institute of Physically Handicapped, New Delhi; Indian Institute of Health Education and Research, Patna and Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, among others.

Physiotherapy is a highly noble and satisfying career. A physiotherapist is not only the provider of health but is also responsible for uplifting his patients from the mental trauma and pain associated with restricted movement and physical functioning. The growth in pay scale depends largely on the professional abilities and the potential of the physiotherapist. A physiotherapist’s role is pivotal at many levels of the health care system as he works as part of a team of medical caregivers.

The writer is senior SME- Physiotherapy, Portea Medica