Blog Archives

Allied Healthcare: your options outside of the medical model

Physiotherapist
photo: Beta Klinik
The medical model is one that most people are familiar with.  You get hurt or sick and you go check in with your family doctor, walk in clinic or even hospital to see what a doctor thinks about what you have done.  When it comes to illness and major trauma a physician is definitely the one you want looking after you, but when it comes to pain, injury and preventive health, both physical and cognitive, doctors are not your best choice.  The fact that you even have a choice comes as a surprise to many people; most are under the assumption that their doctors know best.  If you live in a moderate sized city, the chances are you have a choice of a variety of allied health workers that have exceedingly more specialized training in physical health and rehabilitation than any doctor you will visit.

The following post is a brief summary of some of your healthcare choices and the treatment options they can provide that don’t involve medications or surgeries (scroll down to read details about each bullet).

–    Physiotherapist
–    Massage Therapist
–    Chiropractor
–    Naturopath
–    Osteopath
–    Kinesiologist/Personal Trainer
–    Yoga/Pilates instructors
–    Counselor/psychologist
–    Occupational Therapist
–    Traditional Chinese Medicine/Acupuncturist

Full disclosure: if you were not already aware, I am a physiotherapist and am moderately biased towards my own profession, but I do work closely and share clients with almost all of the different disciplines listed above.

Physiotherapy aka Physical Therapy

Physiotherapists (in Canada) are considered primary care givers, which means you don’t require a doctor’s referral to see them.  They now have a minimum of 6 years of university education and typically extensive post graduate training in various specialties.  Physiotherapy is a profession with a broad scope of practice which allows its’ therapists to take the best techniques from many other healthcare disciplines and make them their own. 

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Pain & Function: What doctors don’t understand & what people don’t understand about doctors

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I have an immense respect for doctors and their knowledge base.  They go through rigorous training in medical school to learn how the body works, how to fix it when it is broken and how to keep it alive when it is dying.  On a daily basis doctors help their patients with a wide variety of medical issues from diabetes to cancer and from pregnancy to Parkinson’s.  We need them in our lives because our society just cannot function properly without them.  That being said, I would like to share my experience and stories in dealing with doctors from the perspective of a physiotherapist that has:

  • 10 years’ experience working with injured clients (including many doctors) that have battled through public and private medical systems, specialists, tests, etc
  • 5 years’ experience working as a physiotherapist within a large family practice doctors’ office in a building with the UBC Medical School and every different medical specialty available in British Columbia
  • 2 opportunities to help teach 4th year UBC medical students how to do proper back assessments
  • A personal history of numerous injuries, trips to the doctor and hospital

The purpose of this post is not to make doctors look bad, it is to help the general public understand what they should and should not expect from their doctors and the medical system as a whole.  Doctors are very smart people, but they don’t know everything, and most of the time they work in a model that doesn’t allow them to help you in a thorough or timely manner; we should not be mad at doctors for this, we should just adjust our expectations and understand that a doctor might not always be the one with the best advice or treatment for your ailment.

When something hurts and doesn’t go away after a couple of days or weeks most people will search the internet for their symptoms and then likely visit their doctor to try and figure out what is going on.  Read More

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Physiotherapists vs. Chiropractors: which one should you choose?

Batman
I get asked at least twice a week what I think about chiropractors.  Some people have this belief that there is an ongoing rivalry between the two professions, but it is just not true.  There is room in the allied health field for practitioners with different approaches; in fact we are all better off for it.   As a physiotherapist, I am obviously biased, but I think for some people, chiropractic treatment may be the best thing for them and for others it may be the worst thing they could do for their pain and that is where the big difference between the two professions is the most evident to me.

Physiotherapy has a much broader scope of practice than chiropractic treatment does.  A well trained physiotherapist should have the ability to manipulate the spine, perform muscle release techniques, use acupuncture or IMS needling treatments, teach core stability exercises, help work on your posture and balance or build a sport specific training program for you.  Most chiropractors focus purely on joint manipulation with a smaller percentage also using muscle release techniques like Active Release (A.R.T.) or Trigenics.  Chiropractors may be the best at using manipulation as a treatment technique by virtue of pure experience and practice, but I would prefer a clinician that has the ability to manipulate me (if need be), needle me (if need be), use myofascial release (if need be) and spend the time with me to help me prevent the problem from arising again.  A good physiotherapist should be able to do everything a good chiropractor can do and more.

The problem is that not every physiotherapist is well trained and just like any profession there are ‘good’ ones and ‘bad’ ones.  The same holds true for chiropractors.  Some physiotherapists will bring their clients in hook them up to three different machines over the course of an hour and barely pay any attention to them. 

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