The Importance of Evidence Based Practice in Physiotherapy

Good physiotherapists pride themselves on having high-quality research to base their assessment and treatments from. At our Camberwell and Kew studios, we seek physiotherapists who are inquisitive and seek for perfection. Honestly, it’s hard to imagine a physiotherapist gaining traction in the industry without those qualities.

Physiotherapists thrive in knowing that what we do each and every day is based on excellent research conducted by physios all over the world. Evidence based practice in physiotherapy of adhering to the recommendations from research papers to ensure that the most appropriate treatment option for you, as the patient, is always chosen.

Physiotherapists have a long history of research, and unlike some of the younger health professions, use this evidence to guide the course of any treatment. Sometimes, younger and inexperienced therapists can fall into the trap of believing everything they read. The real skill physiotherapists possess is being able to find appropriate research to support a particular interest area of theirs. They must then interpret this research to, hopefully, support their current treatment options and modalities.

Your physio is registered with AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioners Registration Agency), along with doctors, nurses, speech therapists, occupational therapists and dietitians. Part of that ongoing registration is the commitment to learning and ongoing professional development. Physios are required to achieve a minimum of 20 “points” or hours per year.

For physios, this can be a great way of keeping abreast of the current evidence that exists on any particular topic. This can come in the form of face to face courses, online lectures or presentations, mentoring younger team members or by pursuing further study themselves. This can mean achieving Master’s or Doctoral level qualifications while still working as a clinical therapist.

One of the most important aspects of Evidence Based Practice in Physiotherapy is the fact that is it keeps physios accountable for what they are doing with each and every patient. By adhering to recommendations, or guidelines as directed by research, patients can know that they are getting the most up to date and highly recommended treatments.

Research also helps us to use only up to date therapy options. For example, ultrasound was once a common treatment option when going to see your physiotherapist after an injury. Now, ultrasound is not even taught at university, such its ineffectiveness in treatment. Research and evidence has real-time effects on the way physiotherapists structure their rehabilitation plans.

While not all physiotherapists will go on to complete further study, or research of their own, it is vital that each and every therapist is aware of the most up to date research. This not only ensures patients only get the best treatment, but are also doing no harm in the process.

Almost always, outdated or superseded treatment techniques will not negatively impact on a patients’ recovery, however there may be faster or just more effective treatment options at the therapists disposal. If you as the patient are interested to know about the science behind what you’re receiving as treatment, as your physio! A good physio will welcome questions and even if they aren’t aware of the specific research papers, should know the general trends or the body of evidence behind what they are doing with you. It goes back to physiotherapists being perfectionists, and a critical appraisal of the treatment you receive should be welcomed by any good therapists. It should also be noted that placebo is a well researched phenomenon, so if your therapist is vague with you on why they are doing what they are doing, there may in fact be science behind that very fact!  

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The Importance of Evidence Based Practice in Physiotherapy