The Fitness Industry Association and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy have completed a year long project to improve collaboration between fitness instructors and physiotherapists, and benefit patients.
In March 2010 the two organisations established a Joint Working Party and just over a year later they have produced “Guidance on the referral of patients between physiotherapists and fitness instructors”. The guidance was developed in order to clarify how the two professions should work together, in recognition of the overlapping roles of the two professions.
Traditionally physiotherapists have worked in functional rehabilitation in the health service and private practice, whereas fitness instructors have worked with healthy clients directing them to specific fitness goals. Increasingly, however, fitness instructors work with people suffering from medical conditions or in the midst of rehabilitation from injury. Physiotherapists, meanwhile, are running campaigns such as Move for Health, which promotes regular exercise and a healthy diet to prevent the onset of ill-health.
The guidance solves this confusion by detailing when a patient’s treatment or recovery will be best managed by a physiotherapist or a fitness instructor. The guidance will also provide General Practitioners with clear guidance on appropriate referral pathways.
As co-chair of the Joint Working Party, FIA Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Searle OBE commented, “Being involved in such an innovative project has been a pleasure.
“It seems like a long time ago that we first sat down together as a group and realised that we both dealt with the same patients, however ever since then we have been working together for the benefit of patients and constantly discovering ways in which we can improve our respective professional development”
The guidance is the first output from the Joint Working Party, which has also discussed joint educational opportunities, however it is not the last. The Working Party will now research and collate local examples of best practice collaboration between REPs Registered exercise professionals and physiotherapists.