Spotlight: Eating Disorder- The role of physiotherapy By Kate Brown

Physiotherapy within Mental Health services has continued to develop as a specialitywithin the United Kingdom since the early 1980s, taking a holistic approach to patient care, believing that physical health and mental health are interdependent. Physiotherapists are able to use specialist skills related to physical recovery. They have an extensive wealth of skills and knowledge in the physical health field and this, combined with their skills in mental health, means that they are ideally places to meet the physical and mental health needs of patients. 

Eating Disorders is one of the specialist services within mental health where patients with anorexia and bulimia nervosa have complex physiological and psychological problems. Two key features of eating disorders are distorted body image, and compulsive exercising behaviour, with the two often being interrelated, where individuals may use exercise as a way of controlling their body weight and shape. Physiotherapy has a unique role to play in the treatment of eating disorders, as the one members of the multidisciplinary team to use physical interventions and education to help patients overcome their symptoms and to accept their changing body shape as they gain weight. The Physiotherapy role within this field encompasses specialist assessment, advice, education, treatment and management of the various physical and psychological components of an eating disorder, and plays a vital role in the management of compulsive exercise, osteoporosis and altered body image.As well as working individually with patients, many Physiotherapists will run educational sessions and practical exercise groups for all stages of illness, recovery and/or weight restoration, appropriate to BMI, taking into account the physical and mental health risks associated witheating disorders. 

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