Position statements outline the opinion and recommendations of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association. They are aimed at physiotherapy and rehabilitation professionals as well as policy makers.
Especially considering that Aboriginal peoples in Canada have poorer health outcomes than non-Aboriginal peoples, physiotherapists have the capacity to significantly enhance the health care of this population in a culturally competent, collaborative way.
Physiotherapists are encouraged to communicate with researchers about the relevance of research translation; published articles typically include an email contact for this communication. Actively discuss with colleagues the grey zones that exist between evidence and practice, and acknowledge your practice weaknesses; these are signs of a true professional.
Physiotherapists are well aware of the broad determinants of health, including income, education, employment, physical environment, and culture. In collaboration with clients and other health care providers, interventions can be implemented to proactively address population health; for example, discussing how to enhance the ergonomics and physical activity of a taxi driver, which relates to employment and physical environment.
As primary health care professionals, physiotherapists have the privilege to diagnose and treat a wide variety of conditions within their scope of practice. Physiotherapists are called to be leaders within their emerging roles as educators, consultants, researchers and policy developers. Physiotherapy not only improves quality of life outcomes, but reduces specialist referrals and wait times.
Physiotherapists are qualified to assess dysfunction, injury or pain related to foot biomechanics. Depending on provincial jurisdiction, the assessment, prescription, and dispensing of foot orthoses are included under the scope of practice for physiotherapists in Canada.
Considering that physical inactivity is the second most important risk factor for poor health in developed countries, physiotherapists are valuable drivers of increasing physical activity among Canada’s children and youth.
Physiotherapists have both individual and systems-level responsibilities to uphold patient safety, which is unquestionably important in health care service delivery.
Manipulation is part of the scope of practice for Canadian physiotherapists, and has been incorporated within provincial legislations in Canada since 1925. Physiotherapists are required to understand and abide by the manipulation-related legislation that applies to the province in which they practice. Like all physiotherapy treatments, clients are reassessed post-manipulation, and the treatment is modified or discontinued when established goals are met.
Inter-professional collaboration is synonymous with patient-centred practice. As physiotherapists, our roles involve a commitment to engaging in lifelong inter-professional activities, which not only increases health care professionals’ job satisfaction but also ultimately benefits the health of Canadians.
Part of professionalism involves knowing when there is a conflict of interest in day-to-day practice. Since payment for treatment may come from a provincial health plan, the client, or a third party such as auto insurance, physiotherapists are called to regularly reflect on potential conflicts of interest within their practice.
Canadian physiotherapy programs require over 4,600 clinical placements per year, excluding out-of-province or international placements, and these numbers are ever-increasing. Despite human resources, practice environment and organizational affecting instructors’ ability to manage instruction, CPA calls on all physiotherapists to contribute to this rewarding, vital process.
Acupuncture and dry needling techniques are within the scope of practice for Canadian physiotherapists, but are not an entry-level skill upon graduation. Physiotherapists should not bill for acupuncture, but as a potential intervention within the physiotherapy session. The CPA also calls on physiotherapists to use the term “dry needling” with the public, in order to develop a better understanding of the difference between physiotherapists and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners.
Increasing access to physiotherapy services is a necessity for the health of Canadians, and the CPA is committed to addressing access barriers through government advocacy initiatives, associations, employers and third-party payers.
Some physiotherapists, through post-graduate education, gain training specific to the treatment of animals. The CPA supports title protection and acknowledges that physiotherapists treating animals should not describe their practice as animal physiotherapy, and the term physiotherapist refers to the treatment of humans only.
In Canada, variations in provincial policies and practices and privately-funded and workplace insurance plans have resulted in inconsistent funding and access to rehabilitation. The CPA is committed to working with funders to develop optimum models that provide Canadians with better access to rehabilitation.