July 20, 2018 | Wirtschaftsbranchen a Lëtzebuerg | Jeff Wiltzius

Physiotherapists help with more than just spinal issues

They help patients with a sprained ankle as well as joint problems, caused by an accident or a sports injury. Their work entails long hours.

“The job of a physiotherapist is challenging, but also varied and extremely interesting”, says Patrick Obertin, physiotherapist and President of the “Association Luxembourgeoise des Kinésithérapeutes”.

The training

The training already gives a good impression of the profession’s diversity. Students learn about subjects such as human anatomy and organ functions. The field’s components include gaining a sense of different symptoms, recognising these, and treating them correctly, as well as completing many practical exercises. Athleticism constitutes an important aspect: “You should be physically fit”, Obertin explains. “You will generally work more than eight hours a day. Additionally, many of my colleagues also assist sports clubs on weekends.”

In Belgium, Holland, and France, it takes five years of study to attain a Bac+5, although getting hold of a place to study is by no means an easy feat. Students must participate in a lottery system to receive a spot in our neighbouring country of Belgium.

Flexibility and open-mindedness

While a massage therapist’s focus lies on relaxation and wellness, the work of a physiotherapist involves treating injuries or physical complaints. “At the start of the year, our profession received more rights, but also more responsibility. We now have the option of examining patients ourselves, as well as making decisions on how and how often a patient should be treated. This of course presents a challenge, but also gives us more freedom”, the therapist is happy to report.

This allows physiotherapists to create their own treatment plans based on prescriptions and potentially their own examinations. Numerous therapy measures entail the use of various tools and devices, for example crutches, gym equipment, and massage oil. Physiotherapists should demonstrate plenty of patience and empathy.

It is particularly important to create a trusting environment and motivate patients to do their part. In general, physiotherapists should be open-minded and not shy away from patient contact. Currently, female physiotherapists make up a slightly higher percentage compared to male physiotherapists. This profession is particularly interesting for individuals with knowledge of modern medicine and sports, the ability to provide understandable explanations, and the desire to carry out social work. Furthermore, the diverse selection of specialisations and the varied, personal fields of work present additional reasons for applying to universities to study physiotherapy.

Physiotherapists mainly work at hospitals, prevention and rehabilitation clinics, specialist medical and physiotherapy practices, retirement homes, rehabilitation centres, and facilities for integrating and caring for individuals with disabilities. They primarily conduct their work in treatment rooms, occasionally also in hospital rooms, gyms, or swimming pools. The job therefore offers something for everyone, catering to those who prefer working alone as well as those who like to work in a team.

Luxembourg sector

Luxembourg has a major appeal in this profession. We boast the highest density of physiotherapists in the European Union. Currently, approximately 1,300 physiotherapists work in the grand duchy. The reason for this lies in the excellent working conditions and the high demand, which is continually increasing. To stand out from the many colleagues and secure your professional future, physiotherapists need to regularly participate in further training. Among others, the “Association Luxembourgeoise des Kinésithérapeutes” (ALK) in Luxembourg offers these.

Patient development

Over the course of time, symptoms have changed. While joint and limb pain used to constitute the most frequent complaints, today – thanks to smartphones and tablets – spinal problems occur most often. “The internet evolution is to blame for this. The causes lie in hours of talking on the phone and surfing the web, which leads to an incorrect spinal posture. ”, says Patrick Obertin.

“Additionally, we see couch potatoes, who don’t exercise at all, as well as extreme athletes, who exercise too much. All of this results in new conditions and treatments.”

Patrick Obertin, physiotherapist and President of the “Association Luxembourgeoise des Kinésithérapeutes”

Given today’s look-down generation, the physiotherapist’s job definitely has a secure future. “This profession offers a great opportunity for individuals who like intellectual work, helping people, are independent and athletic”, Obertin raves, “even if their working day may end a little later in the evening.”

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