The Impact of Physical Therapy on Mental Health

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Individuals have to be physically, emotionally and mentally sound to live healthy lives.

Whatever affects any of these aspects of human life threatens the overall wellbeing of such individual.

This is why health advocates emphasise on the need to live right by eating healthy, exercising and going for regular medical checks.

To achieve good physical and mental health physiotherapists have a big role to play as there can never be an effective patient management without their contribution.

This perhaps informed the designation of September 8 as World Physiotherapists Day by the World Confederation for Physical Therapy in 1996.

The theme for this year is “Physical Therapy and Mental Health”, which raises awareness on the role of physiotherapists in improving mental health through exercise.

The choice of this theme is apt based on medical studies that one in four people will experience a mental health issue of some sort during his lifetime and that mental health issues remarried one of the main causes of overall disease burden globally.

Statistics also show that seventy percent of premature deaths in people with mental health issues are due to poor physical health, while they are also more at risk of having poor physical health.

It is in realisation of this, that healthcare systems across the world place premium on the services of physiotherapists.

Physiotherapists are trained to evaluate and treat abnormal physical functions related to injury, disability disease or condition.

They help in diagnosing physical anomalies and restoring physical function and mobility.

For instance people who suffer neurological conditions such as stroke, spinal-cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis through the help of physiotherapist can enjoy better quality of life mentally and physically.

Physiotherapists also assist in managing Pediatric conditions like development delays and cerebral palsy as well as in sports related injuries like concussion.

Physical therapy reduces dependence on pain-relieving drugs for those with chronic illness.

Despite the incredible role physiotherapists play in promoting good health, it is sad that the number of these professionals is not enough to take care of patients who need them in hospitals across the country.

Last year, the president, and Association of Physiotherapists decried shortage of Physiotherapists in the nation’s hospitals.

This shortage could be linked to brain drain as many trained professionals in this field get better options outside the country where they are appreciated and well remunerated.

It is urgent for government to look into ways of creating better condition of service for physiotherapists in the country to prevent the outward drift of the few remaining professionals and to encourage more people to go into the field.

Since the physical health impacts on the mental health, people should engage more in exercises in order to live happier, stronger and healthier lives.

This will also go a long way to reduce disease burden among the populace.

Most importantly, the National Post Graduate Physiotherapy College of Nigeria Bill currently before the National Assembly should be passed to develop professional expertise for efficient management of patients.

Anthonia Akanji

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