Allied health includes a diverse range of professions, from physiotherapists to chiropodists, who provide direct patient care to rehabilitate, treat and manage medical conditions both in a hospital and community setting.
Occupational Therapists assess and treat physical and psychological conditions in patients to maximise their levels of independence in everyday life. OTs are employed by hospitals or work in settings such as schools, prisons, community centres or nursing homes.
Speech and Language Therapists identify and offer therapy to people with communication disorders. People of all ages are treated but most of the work is with children. Problems from birth such as cleft palate, or special educational needs may be the reason children require support, or for adults, problems with speech following an injury, a stroke or an illness such as Parkinson’s disease. Speech therapists work closely with other medical professionals such as doctors, psychologists occupational therapists, teachers and social workers.
Physiotherapists work with a variety of cases such as people who have had accidents, people who suffer from arthritis or children suffering from disabilities including spina-bifida, or cerebral palsy to manage improve mobility and strength. Sports Physiotherapists work with sports injuries, an area that has grown significantly in recent years.
Optometrists test eyesight looking for any disease or visual defects. They prescribe and fit glasses or contact lenses. They usually work in Private Practice but a small number work in hospitals or lens manufacturers.
Dieticians give advice on all aspects of nutrition and diet. Hospital dieticians may specialise in such areas as diabetes, heart disease, and paediatrics. They are also employed in business and industry as advisors or researchers.
Podiatrists / Chiropodists are health care professionals who treat people suffering from lower limb or common foot problems. The emphasis of most chiropodists or podiatrists is on prevention rather than surgery as being the best form of medicine. Aside from minor foot issues, podiatrists can also help to ease the pain of people with serious health conditions that affect the feet such as diabetes.
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) includes a wide range of therapies, such as acupuncture, homeopathy and reflexology. There are a number of Level 5 and 6 courses nationwide that will offer training in practical skills and a detailed understanding of holistic approaches to health therapy.