Physiotherapy: What it treats and how

Ranked second in the 10 happiest jobs published in the General Social Survey of the National Organization for Research at the University of Chicago, the positive impact of physiotherapy is felt by both patients and therapists.

Used to treat a wide variety of issues, some well-known, and some rather surprising, it can make a life-changing difference to those struggling.

Lindsay Bridgeman, owner of Cayman Physiotherapy Ltd.
Lindsay Bridgeman, owner of Cayman Physiotherapy Ltd.

Cayman Health asked Lindsay Bridgeman, owner of Cayman Physiotherapy Ltd., chartered physiotherapist and one of our 2018 Advisory Panel members some questions about her field.


What is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is treatment using physical approaches to reduce pain and promote healing to maintain and restore people’s maximum movement and function. Physiotherapists adopt a holistic approach involving their patients directly in their own care.

What can physiotherapy be used to treat?

Physiotherapy be used to treat various conditions, including:

  • back, neck and shoulder pain
  • sports injuries
  • post-op orthopedics
  • soft tissue injuries
  • post whiplash
  • posture and work-related injuries/repetitive strain
  • neurological conditions e.g. post stroke, traumatic brain injury, MS
  • pediatric conditions
  • geriatric health
  • respiratory and cardiac rehab
  • women’s health issues e.g. stress incontinence, pelvic pain, pre and post-natal issues
  • management of cancer patients post operatively and/or during and after chemo or radiation


There seems to be growing evidence that physiotherapy can help with symptoms of Parkinson’s. Is this the case and if so how does it help?

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative condition that slowly progresses with no cure yet. Many of the typical Parkinsonian symptoms are changes in motor control (movement) and can be assisted by physiotherapy. For example, reduced arm swing, decreased trunk rotation and stride length variation as well as unsteadiness on the feet.

In the early stages of the disease the physio’s aim of treatment would be to maintain or improve physical capacity and prevent inactivity. As the disease progresses the emphasis would usually be on fall prevention, gait and balance as well as posture and transfers. We would also work on dexterity of the hands if this was an issue. In the later stage of the disease the emphasis would move towards education of carers and preventing complications of immobility.

As physios it would be great to see these patients earlier in their disease process as, although no cure, there is good evidence to show that carefully prescribed exercise can be very beneficial in improving quality of life for these patients.


What is the most common ailment dealt with at Cayman Physiotherapy?

At Cayman Physio we treat a wide range of problems but the most common has to be spinal pain – both lower back and neck. This can affect people of all ages and impacts the lives of the sedentary as well as the athletic population.


What methods are used by physiotherapists?

There are lots of methods and modalities used by physios worldwide. At Cayman Physio we mainly have a ‘hands-on’ method, using manual techniques to work on mobilizing joints and restricted soft issue. This is always backed up with carefully prescribed appropriate exercise for the patient to continue at home to maximize the benefit of their treatment.


Are there any common misconceptions about physiotherapy that you would like to clear up?

Probably that treatment is entirely passive and that the patient can be ‘fixed’ without doing any input themselves. Part of the work is to educate our patients on how to manage their conditions. In most cases full rehabilitation involves patient participation in addition to the physio’s intervention!


What education and training must you go through to become a physiotherapist?

A Bachelors, master’s or Doctorate of Physiotherapy and then ideally at least two years of supervised clinical work. To work in the Cayman Islands a physiotherapist must be licensed by CPAM, our regulatory body.


What would a typical day as a physiotherapist involve?

At Cayman Physio our typical day starts early, as lots of our patients like to come in before work. We have patients booked in from 7:30 a.m. and are usually booked up all day until 7 p.m. Luckily, we have a big enough team that we can operate a shift system to offer these hours.

The patients vary in age and ability and have different needs and expectations. Our treatments are very much based on individual assessment and treatment tailored to their needs so in some ways there is no typical day as our patient population is so diverse.


Is there a difference between physical therapy and physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy and physical therapy are actually the same – physical therapy is the American equivalent of physiotherapy but the CPAM licensing for both is as physiotherapists here in the Cayman Islands.

It is sometimes thought that physiotherapy involves more manual therapy while physical therapy involves more exercise-based treatment. I would suggest that both physiotherapists and physical therapists should have an integrated evidence-based approach to rehabilitation and should include both manual therapy and exercise prescription. The scope of practice in the Cayman Islands is the same for both professions.


Is there anything else you think would be of interest regarding physiotherapy?

At Cayman Physio we offer an integrated approach to rehabilitation, so we work closely with our Acupuncturist, Licensed Massage Therapist and Pilates Instructor. We also offer water therapy as well as ergonomic evaluations in the workplace. As part of our multidisciplinary rehabilitation team our staff all work together to maximize the benefit for the patient’s optimal restoration of function.