The Indian Physiotherapy Story

A Caring Physio
(Last Updated On: September 14, 2017)

Physical therapy has definitely come a long way- from the very first documented account of the master of medicine himself, Hippocrates, to advanced electronic and scientific physio treatments. The profession has branched out and diversified immensely over the last two decades, and now encompasses practices like cardiovascular and pulmonary physiotherapy, community physiotherapy, sports physiotherapy, physical therapy for skin, and orthopedic physical therapy.

What is Physical Therapy?

Patient with physio

Physical Therapy or Physiotherapy as it is more popularly known is a form of therapy that helps a patient to rehabilitate from illnesses or disabilities of different kinds. It essentially provides primary care by making use of certain movements and mechanical forces on the affected areas of the body. Physiotherapy strives to increase mobility and motor movements, reduce impairments, and to improve the overall quality of life in patients. From neonatal to the geriatrics, patients of all ages can make use of the healing techniques of physiotherapy.

Physiotherapy in India – Germination

The famous Indian physician, Sushruta’s techniques of proper breathing and physical exercises are in mainstream popularity till today. His book, Sushruta Samhita, written circa 600 BC, is one of the most comprehensive treatises on the entire medical discipline, and whose detailed descriptions of surgery and medicine are relevant even today. His written works had accounts of physical therapy being used in the ancient times, like treating a joint problem with water therapy, massages and proper stretching. So the seeds of Physiotherapy were sown then.

Yoga is another domain which has had strong links with physiotherapy. In a country steeped in tradition and rich culture, yogis have occupied an important place. The yogic texts give detailed descriptions of almost 800 different exercises that helped a person to slowly recover from an illness or disease. While Yoga’s origins can be traced to 5000 years ago, over the years a rehabilitation therapy known as Physioyoga has become popular for its efficacy. Combining the benefits of Yoga and Physiotherapy together, it is therapeutic and promotes overall wellness of body and mind.

One of the primary contributions of India to the medical sciences is its practice of Ayurveda that means the ‘science of life’; a therapy that has evolved over two millennia. Ayurvedic massages generate a ‘feel good’ factor that helps to relieve pain and stress, while also increasing blood circulation and flushing out toxins. These massages also lend their practice and corresponding benefits to modern-day physiotherapy.

So we see how physiotherapy in India has had precedence dating further back than almost any country in the world, save perhaps Greece. It’s influence and knowledge have spread across the globe and have found a well-deserved place in Western medicine.

Physiotherapy in Modern India

Today, Physiotherapy has completed 65 years in India as a full-fledged medical profession. It was first started back in 1952 with the outbreak of polio in Mumbai. The very next year, India’s first school and centre for physiotherapy was started in Mumbai itself, with government support and support from the World Health Organization (WHO). The Indian Association of Physiotherapists (IAP) 1, was set up in 1962, and is now a registered medical body with over 30,000 physiotherapists.

Today, it is slowly but steadily getting its due acceptance and importance as not just an alternative form of medicine but as a mainstream form of treatment which is more holistic, effective, long-lasting and safer in comparison to more “conventional” forms of treatment in numerous cases. Some of the most common conditions that respond exceedingly well to physiotherapy include Arthritis, Frozen shoulder, Dizziness and Vertigo, Backache, Headache, Sciatica, various athletic injuries, and so much more.

What Next?

With the advent of more and more skilled techniques and state of the art equipment, physiotherapists can serve their patients better with each passing day. In a country reeling from diabetes, arthritis, cancer and cardiovascular diseases, there is a growing need for physiotherapy treatment than ever. The hustle and bustle of everyday life takes a toll on our bodies, and physiotherapy can act as preventive and/or curative medicine, that is far cheaper and more beneficial than simply curative medicines.

So, if you or a loved one, think that they can benefit from physiotherapy, don’t hesitate to consult a physiotherapist to know more.


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