Describing physiotherapy interventions in an emergency department setting: an observational pilot study

Accid Emerg Nurs. 2007 Jan;15(1):34-9. doi: 10.1016/j.aaen.2006.09.005. Epub 2006 Nov 21.


Physiotherapy interventions are provided to patients within Australian emergency departments in selected settings. By describing physiotherapy in the emergency department a contribution is made to understanding the shift in professional roles in emergency department settings. Using an intensive 5-day observational, single case design two key data sources were used: researcher observations and features of patient interventions provided by the emergency department (ED) physiotherapist outlined on a purposefully designed data collection sheet. Twenty patients (10 male, 10 female) were observed to have ED physiotherapy management during the data collection period. Physiotherapy interventions were targeted towards relieving pain, improving mobility, increasing joint range of motion and assisting with discharge planning of these patients. The interventions included educating patients about their conditions, providing gait aids, assisting with patient mobility and transfers, and liaising with medical, nursing and pharmacy staff for medication reviews and discharge planning requirements. Physiotherapy can assist with assessing and managing patients to contribute to reducing unnecessary hospital admissions from the ED. Interventions involve targeting features that would normally impede discharge of patients, such as reduced mobility, poor pain management and inadequate community or environmental supports, through interdisciplinary liaison with medical, nursing and allied health ED staff.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Data Collection
  • Emergency Service, Hospital* / organization & administration
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Urban
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobility Limitation
  • Morbidity
  • Pain Management
  • Patient Discharge
  • Patient Education as Topic / organization & administration
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / organization & administration*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Professional Role*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Trauma Centers
  • Victoria / epidemiology