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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014
Healing touch
Hindustan Times
New Delhi, April 16, 2013
First Published: 17:20 IST(16/4/2013)
Last Updated: 17:43 IST(16/4/2013)
Care to cure : Physiotherapists work in healing patients of all ages with ailments ranging from pain and stiffness to hypertension and obesity

The lowdown

Physiotherapy or physical therapy is an allied health science concerned with helping patients regain or maximise physical movement and functions through exercises and electrotherapy. As a physiotherapist, you have to get the maximum out of whatever potential an individual has left in him or her. Whether it is pain, stiffness, paralysis, surgery, or non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, dyslipidemia leading to heart diseases and stroke, a holistic approach is used by physiotherapists to heal the patient. They also play a very important role in prevention of lifestyle disorders prevalent today. Earlier, physiotherapy was used in a few disciplines like orthopaedics, neurology and paediatrics, involving small children. Now, it caters to everyone — from babies to the elderly and even healthy people. There are wider job avenues today for qualified physiotherapists in hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, rehabilitation centres, private clinics, special schools, fitness centres, and non-governmental organisations working with the disabled and senior citizens

Clockwork
The average day of a physiotherapist in a large tertiary-care hospital:
9am: Start work in the OPD. Spend 30-40 minutes with hemiplegia patients (one half of whose body is paralysed); teach them to sit and make them do exercises. Teach exercises to the parents of a cerebral palsy patient so that the child can do them at home. Make a young patient, suffering from stiffness of the back (due to a spinal ailment), do exercises for mobility
1pm: Lunch
2pm: Clinic for outdoor patients, eg paraplegics. Administer  electrotherapy to a post-operative case
3.30pm: Attend to patients in the wards and keep records
4.30pm: Done for the day

The payoff
In a central government hospital, the gross salary of an entry-level physiotherapist is Rs. 25,000 a month (Pay band 2). The maximum gross salary is Rs. 75,000 a month for someone with a chief physiotherapist’s rank, but this depends on experience. The entry-level pay in the private sector is about Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 15,000 a month

Skills/TRAITS
* Compassion
* Good communication skills 
* Patience, especially when fielding queries from patients and relatives
* Physical stamina

Getting there
Take up science in Class 12. After this, go for a bachelor’s degree in physiotherapy or physical therapy. This four-and-a-half-year degree programme provides detailed knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, biomechanics, kinesiology amongst other subjects. Depending upon one’s choice, you may further specialise at the postgraduate level in areas like orthopaedic, neuro, cardiopulmonary, women’s health, paediatric, community rehabilitation

Institutes and URLs
* Amar Jyoti Institute of Physiotherapy, University of Delhi www.du.ac.in/index.php?id=248
* Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi ipu.ac.in/course/main.htm
* Jamia Hamdard University, New Delhi www.jamiahamdard.edu/career_rehabil.asp
* All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi www.aiims.edu/aiims/deparstments/ortho/ortho_physio.htm
* Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi jmi.ac.in/aboutjamia/centres/physiotherapy/introduction
* Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh  www.pgimer.nic.in

Pros and cons
* You can make a paralysed person regain use of their limbs, which is no less than a miracle
* Flexible work hours
* Low pay, at least initially
* On certain days, the effort spent on a patient can leave you exhausted

Being a physiotherapist is a blessing as it gives you an opportunity to help others in achieving their maximum potential. This also helps us grow as a person -- Dr Alakananda Banerjee, head of department, physiotherapy and rehabilation, Max Healthcare hospital, New Delhi


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