They play a vital role during the post-operative care. But their services are yet to gain the recognition they aspire.
Absence of an exclusive council on par with the Medical Council of India, non-creation of posts in government hospitals despite the growing need for their services, and unattractive pay are some of the issues concerning them for a prolonged period.
In spite of this situation, a number of physiotherapists have been rendering their service — unnoticed in a majority of cases. They rely on house-visits — attending to stroke patients, the aged, and those in need of other rehabilitative exercises. Persons with cerebral palsy are their main patients. There is a strong opinion in favour of the State government appointing physiotherapists in all government hospitals.
“The State government, through its medical insurance scheme, incurs huge expenditure on surgery for several orthopaedic-related ailments. But the appointment of physiotherapists at all primary health centres will curtail the expenditure and bring savings to the exchequer,” says S. Mohankumar, one of the physiotherapists who completed the Master of Physiotherapy course in 2005. “I have remained unemployed for the past eight years, attending to patients at home,” he says.
“The State government's initiative and support by creating adequate posts in government hospitals will go a long way in not only elevating the status of the profession in the eyes of the public but also help serve the needy people, particularly in rural areas,” says V. Krishnakumar, State president of the Forum for Physiotherapists.
Reeling out statistics, he says the course has been losing its charm as compared to its prospective face in the last one decade. As per the norms of the World Health Organisation, the ratio of population: physiotherapist should be 10,000:1. This could be achieved through appointment of physiotherapists in primary health centres. He says the masses in rural areas can access physiotherapy services through this measure.
Taking up the challenge, Manimaran, a faculty in a private physiotherapy college in the city, says the growing demand for physiotherapy services has been on the increase, particularly in the wake of the awareness among people. He says the doctors’ cooperation in referring the patients for post-operative rehabilitation to physiotherapists was encouraging in the city.
A. Jasem, who has set up a comprehensive rehabilitation centre at Ramalinga Nagar in the city, says he conducted a study in various centres, including Vellore, only to find that many people were in need of physiotherapy. He says there is a strong need for appointing physiotherapists at all government hospitals.
He had utilised his study to set up the rehabilitation centre in the city. “The centre has facility for in-patient and I admit patients who are in need of a sustained care all through the day,” he says.
They all plead for conferring of doctoral degree on them. “We render a decent service, supplementing the clinical efforts of medical practitioners ” they say.