In Practice

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“You need to have a strong desire to see people around you happier. Only then will you survive as a physiotherapist,” says Kunal Merchant, who has been a practising physiotherapist for over three years now. He goes on to narrate an excruciating experience of a young, middle-class patient whose family depended on him. A case of one-side paralysis, the patient had lost speech and movement. “He was in so much pain, I worked with him for a year. It is really emotionally and physically draining to see someone suffer so much. Believe me, there sometimes is a feeling when you just want to drop it all. But then you persevere,” he narrates. Of course, he brought the patient to a state where he was mobile and didn’t need help from anyone else. Hopefully, he has also gone back to work.
With the agony, however, comes the satisfaction as well. “When you help the patient to get back on his feet and you see a marked difference in six to eight weeks, it feels kind of good to know that you made that happen,” says physiotherapist Bhani Chandok. She adds that people have such an emotional way of showing gratitude, it enhances the feeling of satisfaction manifold.
Business partners for four years now, Chandok and Merchant met when they were doing their master’s at Sheffield. Once they got back to the city, they opened a clinic but then found it much easier to offer home-care since walk-ins for physiotherapy are rare. “We treat the patient regardless of the condition. I must say that a positive vibe and an encouraging word go a long way with your patients. You have to know what to say and how to say it,” say the duo. The toughest part, according to them is to tell the patient that there is no further scope of improvement in movement after a certain level. It is extremely depressing for the patients and distressing for the therapist as well.
Therapist is the appropriate word, since physiotherapists are partly psychologists as well for their patients. They need to reinforce a fighting spirit and a strong desire to get better day in and day out for their patients. “Since this field is only rehabilitative in nature, we have to think of prolonged treatment. Even after we’re out of the picture, we look at the future and give them a home fitness or exercise regime so that they don’t need us for the same problem at least for the next ten years of their life,” they say.
It is for the same purpose that Merchant started doing weight training and Chandok opted for acupuncture training. Accupuncture? Does it help? “A lot,” says Chandok, “especially to help alleviate the pain.” One of her patients, suffering from slipped disc, had reached a plateau stage in his treatment after five years. She helped with using acupuncture and he got better much faster. “The combination is great, especially for shortening the treatment time,” Merchant chimes in, since he has sought Chandok’s help with his patients a few times.
No wonder one needs to have a strong human spirit to be in this profession. “Not only that, you need to be a good listener, and be very patient. Over long periods of treatment, you connect personally with every patient and it is bound to affect you,” says Merchant.
So what does it take to succeed in this field? “Every year there are thousands of new physiotherapists entering the profession. If you are one of them, stick to your morals, believe in giving and be good at your job. Earn your money, but for the right reasons. You have to love what you do,” Merchant says. After all, it entirely depends on your skill. “And yes, please don’t forget to clearly mention that physiotherapists are not massage therapists!” says Merchant in a teasing manner. We didn’t.

Volume 1 Issue 3

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