Role of physiotherapy in Covid19

Crisis in any form make us realise our mistakes of past, reflect of present and think of the scope for improvement in standards or policies of the future healthcare system in J & K. The CORONA -19 pandemic is one such crisis. There have been a lot of loopholes which Corona has helped us identify specifically in the healthcare sector. Healthcare is extremely complicated and a situation like this has proved that not always mainstream medicine will give 100% result. It has made us realize how each field of multidisciplinary healthcare is interdependent and no one is superior, and can work independent of others. What works matters the most.

To bring to your notice, physiotherapy is one of the branches of medical field which has been underestimated or ignored due to wrong thinking of healthcare policy makers in J and K.

Physical therapy constitute services provided by physical therapists to individuals and populations to develop, maintain and restore maximum movement and functional ability throughout the lifespan. The service is provided in circumstances where movement and function are threatened by aging, injury, pain, diseases, disorders, conditions or environmental factors and with the understanding that functional movement is central to what it means to be healthy.

Physical therapy involves the interaction between the physical therapist, patients/clients, other health professionals, families, care givers and communities in a process where movement potential is examined/assessed and goals are agreed upon, using evidence  based knowledge and skills unique to physical therapists. Physical therapists are concerned with identifying and maximising quality of life and movement potential within the spheres of promotion, prevention, treatment/intervention, habilitation and rehabilitation. These spheres encompass physical, psychological, emotional, and social wellbeing.or overall healthy lifestyle(Adopted from WCPT definition of Physiotherapy )

There have been several studies which have proved that long term exercises has yielded equal and sometimes better results compared to surgery or pharmacotherapy. In many chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis, physiotherapy has been chosen as primary maintenance therapy.

Role of immunity has been the game changer for COVID prognosis, and it is well known a fact that immunity can be boosted much faster with exercises than any other form. When in a country 4.5 years of bachelor’s degree of physiotherapy and additional 2 years of Master of Physiotherapy then DPT doctor of physiotherapy or PHD is a format, why is this highly skilled knowledge not promoted or used in all aspects of life. When in cases of emergency like Disaster Management, physiotherapy has played a key role, the use in routine shall bring wonders. There are several studies wherein physiotherapy has helped in reducing prolonged hospital stay, reduced healthcare  costs in ICU or wards, reduced readmission  rates by home care services has fastened getting back to normal & independent life  and has added to the effect of the medicines used in the time of Corona. Use of physiotherapy correctly by all developed countries in ICU for critically ill and weak patients have resulted in wonders. This pandemic has overburdened one field of medicine so much that it has given unnecessary burden which could have been prevented if the assets of physiotherapist present in India is used at optimum level.

Post COVID fatigue syndrome and long term muscle pain can only be resolved from its root cause with physiotherapy. Medical treatment will only provide temporary relief.

All of these can reduce the overall burden on government and as exercises are accepted as a defense against covid infection, this should be made mandatory part of the core team.

And apart from being a defense against COVID, physiotherapy has a broad spectrum effect on the body by:

  • Working in improving osteoporosis and also preventing/delaying it to some extent, the bone density and quality is improved leading to reduced chances of fracture, the normal age related arthritic changes are also slowed down.
  • Exercising has been proved to reduce stress and depression and improves self confidence and also improves sleep quality and duration. It regulates the circadian rhythm of the body.
  • Control of hypertension, obesity, diabetes imbalances, has found much better when exercise has been an integral part of the schedule.
  • Regular exercise leads to improved insulin sensitivity which in long term leads to lesser medicine dependency.
  • Exercise is also having an analgesic effect which improves the quality of life overall. With regular exercises, the overall fitness status of the body is maintained and achieved and also an increase in stamina has been found.
  • These effects are very important seeing the increase in sedentary lifestyle diseases in which only medicine can’t be the ultimate cure.
  • Regular exercise improve the overall functioning of the body, improves muscle strength and works on both cardiorespiratory and muscular endurance.

As it’s said that every experience teaches a lesson, this pandemic too has shown us that it is still not late to broaden aspects of treatment and physiotherapy rehabilitation. From year 2017 in Jammu and Kashmir, we have struggled with more than 100 follow ups requesting for more speedy procedure to preserve rights of physiotherapists in J and K. There had been some response from the government but the speed needs to be increased for better and quicker results. I request the LG, and the concerned government officials, to create more posts for physiotherapists for the coming years so that a crisis like this can be prevented to the maximum & overall  quality healthcare indicators can be improved.

Dr. Suhail Ahmad Mir (PT) is President, J and K Physiotherapists Association and Council Formation Committee.