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Physiotherapy and Mental Health. An Integrated Approach to Healthy Body and Mind

This is Asmat Akhoond a practicing Pakistani Physiotherapist. I love to gain and share knowledge

Physiotherapists play a major role in enhancing a person's mental health when they are part of a multidisciplinary team. There are many issues that a Physiotherapist can address and give help to patients and enhance their daily performance, and activity level, and make them independent to perform functions of living.

Let's take a look at how physiotherapy can help cope with mental health issues arising as a result of injuries and movement issues.

1-Mental Health Problems secondary to Traumatic Life Events Accidents and Injuries.

Body injuries occurring as a result of trauma or accidents comprise a wide variety of issues that affects the musculoskeletal system. Some common injuries include fractures, soft tissue tears, corrective surgeries, and even removal of certain body parts like feet secondary to severe injuries or diabetes.

About these injuries, many people suffer a lot of mental dilemmas that result in chronic mental health issues which inhibit a person to perform normal daily life functions, limit socialization and reduce functional capacity within their circle. A Physiotherapist can evaluate people with these injuries and plan accordingly treatment options and generate protocols that will make people independent and functional in their daily life so that they can perform their functional activities with full energy and optimal attitudes. Furthermore, injuries and accidents can limit the mobility of a person, and hence they are unable to move from one place to other thereby limiting their independence. Such problems can be treated by a Physiotherapist. The physiotherapist will assess problems concerning the patient's limitations, generate treatment plans as per the patient's need, help with muscle strengthening, and design adaptive equipment and tools that can help the disabled person improve the limitations caused by injury to become active in their life again.

2-Negative Self-image in Obese People

Obese patients generally suffer the stigma of a negative self-image when it comes to their physical appearance and the social concept of body shaming. Physical therapists can help people with weight issues to lose weight with proper exercise and they can guide the person to perform the required exercises that can help enhance their physical health, lose or maintain weight and have a positive image of themselves. Furthermore, the therapist will also design such exercise plan that suits every person's body weight, exertion level, strength ability, and energy. The physical therapist after guiding the weight loss exercises will also make strength training or resistance training regime that will help regain muscle strength as well.

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3- Physical And Social Mobility restrictions due to Disabilities

A Physically disabled person such as people who are born with physical anomalies (such as cerebral palsy, limb defects)or others who have suffered an amputation or accidental limb damage or injured limb removal or another such event that somehow limits a person to wheelchairs or bed, such Patients suffer a lot of physical and social mobility restrictions due to their independence. Physical therapists can help people with such people to effectively live an active and independent life with their disabilities. After assessing individual patients' limits and needs, the therapists help them to make adjustments in their daily life activities and prescribe and design such pieces of equipment so that they can use them effectively and improve their functional levels.

4- Poor Breathing Patterns in Patients with anxiety and depressive illness

People suffering from chronic anxiety and depressive issues usually develop wrong breathing patterns that may provoke symptoms of shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing. The symptoms of anxiety and depression alone can disturb the normal breathing pattern and breathing capacity of a person. The therapist helps people with anxiety and depression learn the proper and useful techniques of deep breathing, corrective breathing patterns, and also whole-body relaxation. When a person performs these patterns in the proper way he or she acknowledges the feeling of relaxation, improved breathing enhances oxygen levels in the body and subsequently improves tissue level oxygenation. Deep breathing exercises also help the person with anxiety gain relaxation in times of anxiety attacks. Proper relaxation techniques can help a person relieve muscle spasms and stiffness issues that also occur frequently in patients with depression and anxiety. Using the technique of Progressive muscle relaxation, the Physiotherapist helps people identify their body parts under stressful spasms and stiffness and helps them achieve relaxation in those affected parts. Also reducing spasms and stiffness in different muscles affected by anxiety and depression improves functional activity levels in such patients.

Using the technique of Progressive Muscle Relaxation, a Physiotherapist helps patient suffering from chronic muscle and body pain attain relaxation in affected

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© 2022 Ismat Akhoond

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