Physiotherapy doesn’t just benefit you physically, but also mentally and emotionally. People often seek the services of a physiotherapist for the purpose of reducing pain, preventing surgery or treating a sports injury. It’s not uncommon for these individuals to notice an increase in their mood as well as their physical symptoms.
Physiotherapy Within Mental Health as a Specialty
Physiotherapy can be so powerful at increasing mental health that some physiotherapists specialize in mental health. This subgroup of physiotherapists work directly in the field of psychiatry and mental health. They are often passionate about helping people deal with the somatic effects of mental illness.
“Physiotherapists in mental health provide health promotion, preventive health care, treatment and rehabilitation for individuals, groups and in group therapeutic settings.” — World Confederation for Physical Therapy
3 Ways Physiotherapy Promotes Mental Health
A physiotherapist doesn’t have to specialize in mental health to deliver mood-boosting PT services to patients. A patient being treated for pain, for example, may indirectly receive mental health benefits from his or her physiotherapy treatment.
Here are three ways physiotherapy promotes mental health:
1. It reduces pain — Chronic pain negatively impacts mental health and contributes to mental illness. Pain is not only linked to mental problems, but also to substance abuse. Depression in particular can develop or worsen when pain is persistent.
One of the aims of physiotherapy is to reduce or eliminate pain. When patients begin to feel their pain lessen, they may also experience a decrease in depression or other mental health issues.
2. It necessitates exercise — Physiotherapy is an active, exercise-based therapy. This doesn’t mean patients will be running marathons by the end of their physiotherapy programs, but it does mean that they will become more active individuals in general.
Becoming more active has mighty benefits on the psyche. “The literature supporting the effects of physical fitness on mental and emotional health is extensive. The level of physical fitness is correlated negatively with depression and anxiety…and correlated positively with self-satisfaction and social adjustments,” stated Role of Physiotherapy in Mental Health Disorders.
Specific benefits of exercise as mentioned by the source above include:
- Improved sleep
- Decreased stress
- Increased endurance
- More stamina and energy
- Improved mood
- Weight reduction
Read more about how exercise improves mental health here.
3. It provides hope — Perhaps the most potent way physiotherapy promotes mental health is by giving patients the hope of feeling better (being in less pain, having more energy, regaining their mobility, etc.). As patients notice the positive changes that come when a physiotherapy program is participated in as prescribed, they may feel increasingly hopeful about their future. This renewed sense of hope alone is a great promoter of mental health.
By reducing pain, increasing one’s level of physical activity and providing hope, physiotherapy can increase mental and emotional health. Reaching out to a physiotherapy clinic near you is the first step to increasing your physical and mental health.