McMaster UniversityMcMaster University Retirees Association (MURA)

A Primer on Rehabilitative Therapy, Summer 2012

July 28, 2012 3:00 PM | Anonymous

Use (and abuse) over the years can leave us with aches and pains, as well as joints and muscles that no longer behave as we would wish. Leading an active life can help, but sometimes we need therapy to overcome these problems.

MURA member Marianne van der Wel is a poster girl for the active, fit retiree. An avid user of the Pulse (weight and strength training gym) at the David Braley Athletic Centre, Marianne's journey back to health started with McMaster’s Sport Medicine & Rehabilitation Centre  and the rehabilitation services offered there, which include Physiotherapy, Athletic Therapy, Massage, Chiropractic and Osteopathy. You may also encounter these services at clinics and practices in the community. Depending on the setting and your needs, therapy may be given by a Physiotherapist, Physiotherapy Assistant, Kinesiologist, Athletic Therapist, Chiropractor or Osteopath.

Marianne has experienced real benefits from Osteopathy and Athletic Therapy combined with a fitness program. “After all the damage I did to my right side sitting in front of computer screens, there is no way that simply working out would have lead to the results I'm getting. My range of motion is so much more, my aches and pains are so much less, and the differences between right side and left side which was quite huge is slowly decreasing.”

There is overlap across Physiotherapy, Athletic Therapy, Massage, Chiropractic, Osteopathy and Kinesiology in terms of the techniques used, but there are differences in the underlying principles of the disciplines, as well as in the training. A short description of each discipline appears below. The MURA website has additional information comparing the purposes and methods of these types of therapy. Physiotherapists, Registered Massage Therapists and Chiropractors are regulated by the Regulated Health Professions Act in Ontario, but Athletic Therapists and Osteopaths are not. Kinesiology is expected to come under the act later in 2012.

Physiotherapy is the treatment of disease, injury, or deformity by joint and soft tissue mobilization, electrical stimulation, cryotherapy (cold), thermotherapy (heat), exercise and massage. It may be delivered by a Physiotherapist (a health professional with a Master’s degree in Physiotherapy) or by a Physiotherapy Assistant under the supervision of a Physiotherapist. Some physiotherapists in the Hamilton area will make home visits following orthopedic surgery and injuries for those who are house bound

Athletic Therapy uses physiotherapy techniques, as well as supportive taping and bracing to return a person to exercise following an injury. Certified Athletic Therapists have an undergraduate degree with specific training in the area of activity-related injury.

Kinesiology is the study of human movement. Kinesiologists apply a range of assessment and therapeutic interventions aimed at enhancing movement. They have completed at least a four-year university degree in Kinesiology.

Massage Therapy uses pressure such as rubbing, kneading or vibration of muscles to relieve tension or pain, increase circulation and improve the mobility of muscle tissue. Registered Massage Therapists have completed a 2-3 year college program.

Chiropractic is a therapy based on manipulation of misalignments of the joints, especially those of the spinal column. Chiropractors receive four years of training at private Chiropractic Colleges.

Osteopathy uses manipulation and massage of the bones, joints, muscles and organs to improve mobility and circulation. Osteopathic Manual Practitioners have a diploma or degree from a private educational institution.

In some cases Physiotherapy may be covered by OHIP, but the other types of therapy described above are not. For specific information on your eligibility for OHIP coverage, call the ServiceOntario INFOline at 1-866-532-3161.

Your McMaster Benefits Plan may also cover some of these services. Check the Extended Health, Dental, and Group Life Benefit Plan booklet specific to your employee group (MUFA, CAW, SEIU, etc.) and year of retirement for details. For information on your personal coverage, visit Sun Life’s web site or McMaster's Human Resources Retiree Information page, or call Sun Life at 1-800-361-6212, 8 am - 8 pm ET Monday to Friday.

You may also want to refer to an article on funding for physiotherapy in the Fall 2008 issue of MURAnews.

It’s never too late to investigate ways to keep your body moving. As Marianne says “Without your body, where are you going to live"? 

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