This May, for National Physiotherapy Month, Ontario Physiotherapy Association members share the impact of physiotherapists’ scope of practice on their communities.

Pamela Houghton, Physiotherapist: 

“I am a retired physiotherapist as of 2022. I was registered with the College in Ontario (CPO) for 29 years.  I worked as a full professor teaching and doing research that supported the important role of physical therapists in wound care in Canada.

For many years physiotherapists in Ontario have been able to “work below the dermis” which includes many of the skills needed to provide wound care. Skin health and wound care is an emerging field of practice aimed at improving the outcomes of people who are at risk of, or those who are living with chronic wounds. This includes a huge number of Canadians since chronic wounds are a common complication of many health conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and neurological conditions such as MS, SCI, stroke. Problems with skin integrity and delayed healing also affect a significant proportion of elderly people with limited mobility and people with critical illnesses such as acute trauma, complex surgery, and cancer.

Throughout my career I provided evidence based physical therapy treatments that are known to speed healing of many types of chronic wounds including rehabilitation programs that “take the pressure off” the skin and leg exercises that improve peripheral circulation. Additionally, many of the therapeutic modalities used in physiotherapy are known to promote faster and stronger wound closure including electrical stimulation therapy (E-Stim), ultrasound, and light therapies. I have had the opportunity to help many people living with spinal cord injuries (SCI) who have developed terrible sitting acquired pressure injuries. Pressure injuries (PrIs) or skin breakdown is known to be second most common complication after SCI and the one that has the greatest impact on quality of life.

The implementation of self management programs has allowed 100s of people with SCI and PrIs  to treat their own wounds with E-Stim, to close long standing open PrIs, and to ultimately regain their mobility and independence. Not many PTs in Canada appreciate that wound care is part of their scope of practice.  However, so many of our current practices can help this growing population of people affected by chronic non healing skin wounds.”

Follow us on social media to read all the National Physiotherapy Month stories this May!