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Mover ‘n’ shaker

education Updated: Aug 15, 2012 14:37 IST

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/or therapies, using agents such as heat, wax and electricity. It involves rehabilitating, not curing, a person. Qualified physiotherapists work in hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, rehabilitation centres, private clinics, special schools, fitness centres, and non-governmental organisations for the disabled, senior citizens and sports persons. Physiotherapists now branch out into specific fields, including sports, by pursuing specialised PG courses, such as in sports, cardio-pulmonary, neurological and musculo-skeletal physiotherapy. Specialisations have made this discipline better, says Dharmendra Kumar, director, Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Institute for the Physically Handicapped, New Delhi. While there is no national regulator for physiotherapy as yet, physiotherapists need to register with a council to practise in certain parts of India, including Maharashtra and Delhi

The average day of a physiotherapist in a large tertiary-care hospital is as follows:
9am: Start work in the OPD. Spend 30-40 minutes with a hemiplegia patient (one half of whose body is paralysed), teaching him to sit and make him exercise. Teach exercises to a cerebral palsy patient’s parents so that the child can do those 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. Give electrotherapy to a post-operative case
3.30pm: Attend to patients in the wards and check records
4.30pm: Call it a day

The payoff
In a central government hospital, an entry-level physiotherapist’s take-home pay is about Rs.25,000-Rs. 30,000 a month. A professor of physiotherapy in a government teaching hospital would draw about Rs. 60,000-Rs. 70,000 a month. The entry-level salary in the private sector is about Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 20,000 a month

* Good communication and inter-personal skills
* Physical stamina
* Compassion and ability to motivate patients to make the therapy successful
* Team player
* Patience, especially when fielding queries from patients and relatives

Getting there
Study science in Class 11 and 12. After this, go for a bachelor’s in physiotherapy/ physical therapy. Depending on your interest and career goals, you can do a specialisation at the postgraduate level. A PhD brightens career prospects in teaching-hospitals. While there is no national regulatory body for physiotherapy, like it exists for doctors, as yet, in certain parts of the country including Maharashtra and Delhi, physiotherapists need to register with a council to be able to practise there. In the national capital, physiotherapists have to register with the Delhi Council for Physiotherapy & Occupational therapy

Institutes and URLs
* National Institute of Rehabilitation Training and Research, Cuttack
* National Institute for the Orthopaedically Handicapped, Kolkata
* All India Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mumbai
* Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Institute for the Physically Handicapped, New Delhi
* Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh
* KEM Hospital and Seth GS Medical College, Mumbai
* Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, New Delhi
* Jamia Hamdard (Hamdard University), New Delhi

Pros and cons
* You can make a paralysed person regain use of their limbs, which is like a small miracle
* The work hours are flexible
* Relatively low pay, at least initially
* On certain days, the effort spent on a patient can leave you exhausted
* It takes time to establish yourself and prosper in independent practice

There’s a qualitative change now — institutes running courses for money have been shut. Only those giving quality education are sustaining, Dharmendra Kumar, director, Pt Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Institute for the Physically Handicapped, New Delhi