World Physiotherapy Day, Cameroon

As people all around the world gather this day to celebrate World Physiotherapy Day, we are reminded of the crucial contribution Physiotherapists make to society to keep people well, mobile and independent. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines Physiotherapy as a health profession that uses manual therapy, exercise and education to restore movement and functional ability. Physiotherapists provide treatment to help people prevent or recover from physical or mental disabilities or rehabilitate after an injury.

The World Physiotherapy Day had its roots right back in 1951, on 8th September, when the World Confederation of Physical Therapy (WCPT) was founded. The Confederation later decided to commemorate the day as an annual event to raise awareness about the hard work of the physical therapist and the potential of physiotherapy. On 8th September 1996, World Physiotherapy Day was observed for the first time and since then, the day is celebrated world wide.

The theme of this year’s World Physiotherapy Day centers on a very important health issue, osteoarthritis. The theme has been coined “osteoarthritis and the role of physiotherapists in its prevention and in the management of people affected by osteoarthritis.”

Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones wears down over time. Although osteoarthritis can damage any joint, the disorder most commonly affects joints in the hands, knees, hips and spine.

Cameroon like most African countries is greatly affected by this disease. It affects mainly women more than men and people over 50 years. Its progression is slow and irreversible, and often leads to serious disability problems. A shortage of medical personnel and limited access to joint replacement therapy in most developing countries further aggravates the situation.

Physiotherapy has proven to play an important part in curbing the degeneration of osteoarthritis.

According to the Journal of physical therapy science, physiotherapy is the appropriate non-surgical treatment for knee OA. Physiotherapy has been suggested to not only help reduce pain, but also improve function, muscle strength, range of movement, joint stability, and aerobic conditioning.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also recognised the central role that physiotherapy plays in the management of osteoarthritis. In the WHO global disability action plan 2014-2021 “better health for all people with disabilities”, one of the objectives of the action plan as enunciated by WHO is to strengthen and extend rehabilitation, assistive devices and support services, and community-based rehabilitation which will enable people with disabilities fulfil their aspirations in all aspects of life.

According to the world confederation of Physiotherapy (WCPT) 2019 report, an estimated 250 physiotherapists exist in Cameroon, representating an extremely low rate of 0.10 physiotherapists per 10,000 populations. This compromises acces to quality physiotherapy services for those in need.

On this note we specially appreciate physiotherapists in home health care who work in and out of schedule to go the extra mile to provide home based physiotherapy to patients. Home-based physiotherapy has in many ways improved the quality of life for the patient.

Home based physiotherapy with regular visits from the health personnel can promote empowerment, increase independence and self management. All home based physio visits are set around goals agreed by the patient and therapist with the ultimate aim of improving that individual’s quality of life Research shows that a tailored, supervised exercise programme can help improve people’s day to day function and slow down the progression of long-term conditions.

We celebrate all the amazing Physiotherapists we have in Cameroon, Africa and the world in general. We remain thankful for your immense contribution in helping the world to keep moving. Happy World Physiotherapy Day!

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