Although physical therapy is most commonly used to treat patients who are suffering from a physical injury, it is becoming an increasingly popular method of rehabilitation within patients suffering from mental health complaints.
Who can benefit from physiotherapy?
Specifically targeted at improving a patient’s overall quality of life, physiotherapy can be applied to aid with the treatment of mental health complaints. Mental illnesses that have been proven to benefit from physiotherapy include; anxiety disorders, dementia, depression, hysterical conversation syndrome, illness phobia, personality disorders, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and substance abuse.
What are the aims of physiotherapy?
The general aims of a physical therapist when producing a tailored physiotherapy plan for patients will mental illnesses are:
- To promote good health, coordination, strength, and stamina.
- To offer a new and more positive direction for a patient’s concentration.
- To help a patient form an understanding of their own body and develop the knowledge of therapeutic breathing patterns and help a patient understand the effects of the autonomic nervous system.
- To offer a new, positive way to manage stress through exercise, relaxation, and lifestyle.
- To promote a supportive yet relaxing atmosphere where patients feel at ease and able to discuss any issues they may be facing.
- To boost a patient’s self-confidence and allow them to return to a healthy mental state.
- To support patients who may be dealing with the distressing effects as a result of their mental illness.
- To provide coping methods for patients taking drugs.
- To promote healthy joint mobility, strength, and endurance.
- To help motivate and educate mental health patients regarding treatment and alternative ways of thinking.
Physiotherapy exercises for mental health patients
Generally, in the application of physiotherapy to treat mental health, patients will be given a number of activities to choose from. These can include; ballroom dancing, keep fit classes, tai chi, and yoga. Through these exercises, body awareness and mindfulness can be achieved – promoting a healthy state of mind and positive recovery.
In a similar way, touch therapy can be used in the form of therapeutic massages which are proven to stimulate a positive state of mind. This form of touch therapy can also help to improve body awareness and teach patients about the emotional links to their physical form.