Get to know your Allied Health Professionals

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Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) are degree level, professionally autonomous individuals, and make up the third largest NHS workforce across the UK. 11 of the registered AHPs are regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and you can check the registrations of any of these AHPs by checking the register on their website.

AHPs provide system-wide care to assess, treat, prescribe, diagnose and discharge patients across, social care, housing, education, and independent and voluntary sectors. They work in a variety of organisations from the NHS, private healthcare, government, and education sectors. The main focus of AHPs is on improvement of health and well-being to maximise the potential for individuals to live full and active lives.

The information below has been gathered from the HCPC and the AHP websites.

Arts therapists

An arts therapist is a psychological therapist who has arts-based experience and training in psychological interventions using drama, music or art as their primary mode of communication. Art therapists use art as a form of psychotherapy to encourage clients to explore a variety of issues including emotional, behavioural or mental health problems, learning or physical disabilities, life-limiting conditions, neurological conditions or physical illnesses.

Drama therapists are both clinicians and artists that draw on their knowledge of both theatre/drama and therapy to use performance arts as a medium for psychological therapy. Clients are able to explore a wide variety of different issues and needs from autism and dementia to physical/sexual abuse and mental illness in an indirect way leading to psychological, emotional and social changes.

Music therapists engage clients in live musical interaction so as to promote an individual’s emotional wellbeing and improve their communication skills. Clients do not need to have any previous experience of playing a musical instrument (or even singing) as this established psychological clinical intervention utilises their unique connection to music and the relationship established with their therapist to help: develop and facilitate communication skills, improve self-confidence and independence, enhance self-awareness and awareness of others, and improve concentration and attention skills.

Chiropodists / podiatrists

A chiropodist / podiatrist diagnoses and treats disorders, diseases and deformities of the feet. They provide essential assessment, evaluation, and foot care for a wide range of patients with a variety of conditions both long term and acute. Many of these fall into high risk categories such as patients with diabetes, cerebral palsy, peripheral arterial disease and peripheral nerve damage where podiatric care is of vital importance.

Dietitians

A Dietitian uses the science of nutrition to create eating plans for patients to treat medical conditions. They promote good health by helping to facilitate a positive change in food choices. Dietitians are the only qualified health professionals who assess, diagnose and treat diet and nutritional problems at an individual and wider public health level. Uniquely, Dietitians use the most up–to-date public health and scientific research on food, health and disease, which they translate into practical guidance to enable people to make appropriate lifestyle and food choices. Dietitians are the only nutrition professionals to be regulated by law, and are governed by an ethical code to ensure that they always work to the highest standard. Dietitians advise and influence food and health policy across the spectrum from government, to local communities and individuals.

Occupational therapists

An Occupational Therapist (OT) uses specific activities to limit the effects of disability and promote independence in all aspects of daily life. OTs support people with a range of interventions to enable them to return to or optimise participation in all the things that people do; for example, caring for themselves and others, working, learning, playing and interacting with others. Being deprived of or having limited access to any or all of these occupations can affect physical and psychological health and hence OTs positively impact upon the wellbeing and rehabilitation of patients in most care pathways and in the broader public health and social care environment.

Operating Department Practitioners

Operating Department Practitioners (OPDs) provide individualised care and skilled support alongside medical and nursing colleagues during the anesthetic, surgical and recovery phases of a surgical procedure. Operating Department Practitioners are highly skilled healthcare practitioners that support patients of all ages during each phase of the patient’s perioperative care:
• Anesthetic – provide patient-centered care and prepare specialist equipment and drugs
• Surgical – prepare all the necessary equipment and instruments for operations and providing these to the surgical team during the operation
• Recovery – supporting the patient throughout their time in the recovery ward, assessing vitals and fitness for return to the ward
As well as providing this specialised care, ODPs are responsible for preparing the operating theatre and maintaining communication between the surgical team, operating theatre and wider hospital.

Orthoptists

An Orthoptist specialises in diagnosing and treating visual problems involving eye movement and alignment. Orthoptic clinical practice encompasses both diagnosis and treatment and is wide ranging. Orthoptists help premature infants with retinopathy of prematurity, children with reduced vision due to squint, adults and children with eye movement defects due to diabetes, hypertension, endocrine dysfunction, cancer, trauma and stroke. Extended scope orthoptic practitioners now work in high volume ophthalmic specialties such as glaucoma, cataract and age related macular degeneration.

Paramedics

Paramedics provide specialist care and treatment to patients who are either acutely ill or injured. They can administer a range of drugs and carry out certain surgical techniques. Paramedics are the senior ambulance service healthcare professionals at an accident or a medical emergency. Often working by themselves, paramedics are responsible for assessing the patient’s condition and then giving essential treatment. They use high-tech equipment such as defibrillators, spinal and traction splints and intravenous drips, as well as administering oxygen and drugs.

Physiotherapists

Physiotherapists deal with human function and movement, and help people to achieve their full physical potential. Physiotherapy uses physical approaches to promote, maintain and restore physical, psychological and social well-being, working through partnership and negotiation with individuals to optimise their functional ability and potential.
Physiotherapists address problems of impairment, activity and participation and manage recovering, stable and deteriorating conditions – particularly those associated with the neuro-muscular, musculo-skeletal, cardio-vascular and respiratory systems – through advice, treatment, rehabilitation, health promotion and supporting behavioral change. Physiotherapy uses manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, the application of electro-physical modalities and other physical approaches in response to individual need.

Prosthetists and Orthotists

Prosthetists are autonomous registered practitioners who provide gait analysis and engineering solutions to patients with limb loss. They are extensively trained at undergraduate level in mechanics, bio-mechanics, and material science along with anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology. Their qualifications make them competent to design and provide prostheses that replicate the structural or functional characteristics of the patients absent limb.

Orthotists are autonomous registered practitioners who provide gait analysis and engineering solutions to patients with problems of the neuro, muscular and skeletal systems. They are extensively trained at undergraduate level in mechanics, bio-mechanics, and material science along with anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology. Their qualifications make them competent to design and provide orthoses that modify the structural or functional characteristics of the patients’ neuro-muscular and skeletal systems enabling patients to mobilise, eliminate gait deviations, reduce falls, reduce pain, prevent and facilitate the healing of ulcers.

Radiographers

Diagnostic radiographers use a range of techniques to produce high quality images to diagnose an injury or disease. They are responsible for providing safe and accurate imaging examinations and increasingly also the resulting report. Diagnostic imaging is a component of the majority of care pathways.
Radiographers are also key team members in Breast Screening and Ultrasound monitoring of pregnancy.

Therapeutic radiographers play a vital role in the treatment of cancer. They are also responsible as they are the only health professionals qualified to plan and deliver radiotherapy. Radiotherapy is used either on its own or in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy.
Therapeutic radiographers manage the patient pathway through the many radiotherapy processes, providing care and support for patients throughout their radiotherapy treatment.

Speech and Language Therapists

A Speech and Language Therapist (SLTs) will assesses, treat and help to prevent speech, language and swallowing difficulties. SLTs in the UK work with children and adults to help them overcome or adapt to a vast array of disorders of speech, language, communication and swallowing.
These include helping young children to access education, working with young offenders to enable them to access the programs designed to reduce reoffending, reducing life-threatening swallowing problems in the early days after stroke and providing essential support to adults with a range of acquired neurological communication difficulties to help them return to work, and their roles in their family and society.

As AHPs form such a large part out our healthcare workforce at Total Body Orthotics we believe it is important for individuals to understand the roles of each professional. Also as Orthotists and Nurse Specialists we often work closely together with our AHP colleagues to provide holistic care for our patients.

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